Preview: Syracuse vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame is just two wins away from a perfect regular season but faces a tough opponent in No. 12 Syracuse on Saturday afternoon from Yankee Stadium as part of the Shamrock Series. The third-ranked Fighting Irish continued their march to the College Football Playoff with a dominating home win over Florida State last week, while the Orange keep climbing the rankings after a 54-23 win over Louisville.
Senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush got the start in place of the injured Ian Book and didn’t disappoint, as the former starter threw for three touchdowns and Notre Dame took care of the Seminoles 42-13. “Brandon wants to win for Notre Dame, for his teammates. He’s been that way whether in a starting role or as a backup,” coach Brian Kelly told reporters after the game. Syracuse has won four straight after back-to-back road losses against Pittsburgh and Clemson, with its most recent victory being a revenge win of sorts against the hapless Cardinals last Friday evening. “Louisville’s the one team that’s really smacked us the past three years. This felt good for us. I really wanted to win by a lot, so I’m happy we did,” quarterback Eric Dungey told reporters after the game.
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Notre Dame -10.5.
ABOUT SYRACUSE (8-2): Dungey ran for two scores and threw for another against Louisville and has put to rest the mini-quarterback controversy from earlier in the season between himself and redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito. But it was the Orange’s rushing game that was truly dominant against the Cardinals as the team racked up 326 yards on the ground, led by Moe Neal’s career-best 159 yards and two scores. Syracuse’s defense played one of its better games of the season, forcing four turnovers, but will be challenged on Saturday against an Irish offense that averages just under 200 rushing yards per game and has a passing game that is led by one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country in Book.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (10-0): Kelly also said that Book will reclaim his starting role “when the doctor says he’s cleared to go,” which is expected to happen at some point this week as Notre Dame announced on Sunday that it is planning to start Book against the Orange. Book leads the nation in completion percentage (74.5 percent), is fourth in passing efficiency (170) and has thrown for 1,824 yards and 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions since taking over in Week 4. He’ll have to be sharp on Saturday as the Fighting Irish will look to keep pace with an explosive Syracuse offense that ranks second in the ACC in points per game (44.4) and yards per game (482).
1. Notre Dame is 8-0 all-time in the Shamrock Series where it plays a home game at a neutral field.
2. The Fighting Irish ran for 365 yards against a Florida State defense that was allowing just 2.8 yards per rush before last week.
3. Syracuse, which finished 6-0 at home this season, will close out the regular season on the road against Notre Dame and No. 22 Boston College.