Miami-Notre Dame.

Well, if this doesn’t bring back a flood of memories. . .

I was on the Notre Dame beat in 1988, when the Irish put their national-championship hopes on the line against the Hurricanes. That’s a challenge they will face again on Saturday.

If Notre Dame wins, it will take a giant step toward the College Football Playoff. If it loses, adding a second loss to its opening disappointment vs. Georgia, that will be pretty much end-of-story for ND’s 2017 national championship hopes, barring a miracle.

The strange part of this is, that even though the ’88 game was in South Bend while this game will be played in South Florida, I like Notre Dame’s chances better this time.

No question, these undefeated ‘Canes are a formidable bunch. And coming off their shockingly impressive win over Virginia Tech, they will be supremely confident.

And yet, this Notre Dame squad, with its aggressive, opportunistic defense, its punishing running game and its rapidly improving passing game, has all the ingredients to notch another victory on Saturday.

In 1988, Miami was in the midst of an amazing eight-year run. From 1985 to 1992, the Hurricanes went 88-11, and won three national championships.

As it turned out, when they went to Notre Dame on Oct. 15, 1988, the Irish were the only thing standing in the way of another Miami national championship.

And as it turned out, Miami was also the only thing standing in ND’s national-championship way.

And we all pretty much knew this was for all the marbles.

Lou Holtz was at his finest that week, coaching up his players, serving up plenty of wonderful media blarney and just generally making college football fun in a way that’s no longer possible.

I was covering the Irish for the Chicago Sun-Times that year. Having picked up ND in 1984, in the throes of the Gerry Faust angst, I had pretty much seen everything. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.