Miami running back Mike James is almost always smiling.
When talking about facing Notre Dame this week, he was not.
''Notre Dame is a big game,'' James quietly said, ''for a lot of reasons.''
The Fighting Irish (4-0) are unbeaten and ranked No. 9 in the nation. Saturday night's game at Soldier Field in Chicago is the resumption of one of college football's most overheated rivalries that helped decide at least five national titles in an eight-season span from 1983 through 1990. And it's a chance for the Hurricanes (4-1) to reclaim a piece of the national spotlight that has faded considerably in recent years.
For James, it's also personal. Very personal.
The last time these teams met was the 2010 Sun Bowl, a day he'll never forget for reasons that have nothing to do with football. That bowl game started at the same moment as the funeral for James' mother Elgusta James, who died in a car crash 11 days earlier. Mike James wasn't at the funeral; he played in the bowl game after fami...