Freshman quarterback Tommy Rees threw two touchdown passes to Michael Floyd to lead Notre Dame to a 33-17 victory over Miami on Friday in the 77th annual Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas.
Notre Dame scored the game’s first 27 points as its defense forced four Miami interceptions in the first half, three by senior safety Harrison Smith.
Rees was 15 for 29 for 195 yards as the Fighting Irish won their fourth straight game and finished the season 8-5 under first-year coach Brian Kelly.
Hurricanes starting quarterback Jacory Harris was picked off three times and his backup, freshman Stephen Morris, was intercepted once. Notre Dame's David Ruffer kicked three field goals and ended the season by hitting 18 of 19.
Morris rallied the Hurricanes (7-6) in the second half, throwing two touchdown passes. The Irish led 30-3 early in the fourth quarter before Morris hit Leonard Hankerson on a 6-yard scoring pass.
On the next Miami series, Morris threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-5 wide receiver Tommy Streeter. Morris finished 22 of 34 for 281 yards.
Rees threw his first touchdown pass on the opening drive, a 2-yarder to Floyd, to give the Irish an early 7-0 lead with 11:02 remaining in the first quarter. Seven minutes later, Rees hit Floyd again on a 36-yard scoring strike as the Irish took a 14-0 lead.
Sophomore tailback Cierre Wood scored early in the second quarter on a 34-yard run to give Notre Dame a 21-0 lead. Ruffer added a pair of field goals, from 40 and 50 yards, to boost the lead to 27-0 with 32 seconds left in the half.
Miami kicker Matt Bosher scored the Hurricanes’ first points - a 47 yard field goal - as timed expired in the first half with the Irish leading 27-3.
Rees twisted his knee late in the first half and wore a knee brace to start the second half. The Irish marched to the Miami 1-yard line early in the third quarter, but the Hurricanes stiffened and Ruffer kicked a 19-yard field goal to increase the lead to 30-3.
Ruffer missed a 36-yard attempt late in the third quarter to end his school-record streak of 23 in a row over the last two years. Morris threw two touchdown passes before Notre Dame ended the scoring with a 34-yard field goal by Nick Tausch.
This was the 24th meeting between the Irish and the Hurricanes, but the first time they met in a bowl game. Notre Dame now leads the series, 16-7-1.
Miami lost their third straight game. New head coach Al Golden now takes over the Hurricanes’ program and will retain interim coach Jeff Stoutland.
Miami's offensive line coach, Stoutland was named interim coach when Randy Shannon was fired after the regular season.