Michael Floyd

Notre Dame's Michael Floyd breaks free for a long gain after a reception in the first half against Miami at the Hyundai Sun Bowl. (Tribune Photo/MARCUS MARTER)

EL PASO, Texas — Miami knew it. But there wasn't a darn thing the Hurricanes were able to do about it.

That's when it's obvious that Michael Floyd is special.

Miami's defense knew that the Notre Dame football team's offense revolved around the 6-foot-3, 227-pound junior receiver. The Hurricanes game-planned against him. They knew where he was on every play.

Yet, Floyd still came away with MVP honors in Notre Dame's 33-17 Sun Bowl victory.

"We knew (Floyd) was a big-time receiver," said Miami standout cornerback Brandon Harris. "We had to adjust a little. It wasn't no secret who their best player was on offense."

That best player caught six passes for 109 yards and touchdowns of three and 34 yards. He left the game with 28 career TD catches, the most in Notre Dame history.

"Our offense starts with Michael and the ability to get him the football," said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. "He just allows us to do so many things. When we can get him the ball and make sure he has some touches, it opens up so many other things within our offense. Michael's healthy, we've gotta get him the football."

Those two TD catches were in the first quarter, as the Irish pushed out to a 14-0 lead. Actually, he could have just as easily had four touchdowns.

Floyd had two passes slip away from him in the end zone. They would have been great catches, but they were possible.

"I shoulda had four. It was all on me," Floyd said with a laugh."

A second-half hamstring tweak limited his effectiveness late, as did the Hurricane secondary's adjustment on him.

"All four DBs did a good job on press coverage, trying to re-route me," Floyd said. "We just took advantage of it, whenever they gave us one-on-one coverage. Tommy (Rees) made a good throw and we got the job done.

"The cornerbacks were taking kind of a different way of jamming me — as soon as the ball's snapped, just kind of launching their body at me to slow me down down the field. They had a guy on top of me."

Floyd could leave for the NFL with a year of eligibility left. That decision's yet to be made. Whatever the case, Kelly has nothing but praise for his star.

"We have a young man here at Notre Dame that has given everything to Notre Dame," Kelly said. "If he decides it's in his best interest to come back next year, we'll be very, very happy for him. We want what's best for Mike Floyd. He's shown why he's a championship football player in his performance."

Banged up

Good thing the Irish aren't scheduled to play next week.

It might be physically tough.

Injuries mounted Friday. They included Floyd, nose guard Sean Cwynar (foot injury), linebacker Manti Te'o (sprained right knee), Rees (hyperextended left knee) and running back Robert Hughes (right leg injury).

Award winners

No big shock, Floyd was selected as the Sun Bowl's most valuable player. Irish tackle Zack Martin was the game's top lineman and, even though his streak of consecutive field goals ended, kicker David Ruffer was the most valuable special teams player.