Frankie V’s Prediction: Notre Dame v. Syracuse ’18

Notre Dame is back in action today with two games standing between it and the College Football Playoffs.  If you had told anyone in August Notre Dame would be 10-0 on November 17 and one of their two opponents would be ranked #12, 99 out of 100 people would have guessed that ranked foe was USC.  As we all know, it’s not and the Irish are set to square off with the 12th ranked Syracuse Orange this afternoon in Yankee Stadium.  The Organe have upset on their minds while the Irish have the playoffs in their sights.  Who will come out on top? Let’s dive in.

What Worries Me This Week

Turnovers.  Syracuse is one of the best defenses in the country at forcing turnovers.  They are very much a boom or bust defense and if you let them create turnovers they become a major problem.  Lately, Notre Dame has been turning the ball over much more than they should be and it has nearly cost the Irish early on in games versus Navy and Northwestern.  In both cases the Irish defense held and the opposing offense obliged the Irish by missing field goals.  They might not be so lucky this week if they turn it over early again.

Ian Book‘s interceptions have increased in recent weeks as opposing teams have some more film on him.  He is going to have to do a better job protecting the football this week than he has in his previous two starts before missing last week.  The Irish were sloppy with the ball last week too though those interceptions came off the hand of Brandon Wimbush who will be back in his backup role.

Notre Dame has had great sudden change defense this year, but Syracuse’s offense does not need any more opportunities with the ball today.  The Irish must protect the football to win the game.

Negative plays. Like turnovers, Syracuse excels at generating negative plays and is on pace to set the Cuse school record for sacks in a season.  Again, this is a boom or bust type of defense.  They take a lot of chances and end up creating a lot of havoc plays.  At the same time, those chances backfire.  A lot.  They have given up 40 points three times already this season.

One of Ian Book’s greatest assets is his ability to get the ball out quick and accurate so that should help mitigate the Syracuse pass rush somewhat.  It is still something to watch this week though since we saw how effective Pitt was at bringing relentless pressure.  It forced Book into a bad sack early on in the game and then harassed him into bad decisions all game long.

This type of defense makes two players to watch for today for the Irish – Jafar Armstrong and Chase Claypool.  One of the best ways to slow down a blitz is still to run screens and with Armstrong back to 100%, he could have a huge game today.  For Claypool, we’ve seen how effective he can be on the slant route in recent weeks.  That throw should be there again most of today.

What Doesn’t Worry Me This Week

Syracuse moving the ball between the 20’s.  Syracuse is going to move the ball between the 20’s.  There is no way around that this week.  Much like the Wake Forest game, expect Clark Lea to play conservative early and keep everything in front of his defense.  Syracuse has one of the best offenses in the country at moving the ball into the redzone and one of the worst in the country at converting into touchdowns.  Expect Lea to force Syracuse to go on long, methodical drives to score similar to that marathon 17 play drive the Irish surrendered to Northwestern.

Offenses like Syracuse’s aren’t built to go on 17 play drives, they are built to get a defense off balance and rack up chunk plays.  If they are moving the ball between the 20’s Notre Dame fans shouldn’t be too concerned as long as the Irish are holding to field goals or 4th down attempts.  The Notre Dame offense is going to score a lot of points this week so if the Irish can trade touchdowns for field goals, they will be just fine.

What should worry every Notre Dame fan is if Syracuse is ripping off big chunk plays or converting their trips to the redzone into touchdowns.

Notre Dame moving the ball passing.  Syracuse’s defense might force a lot of turnovers and negative plays, but they also give up a ton of yards and points.  Ian Book and the Notre Dame offense are going to be able to move the ball and put up some points today.  I don’t think we will see a ton of vertical passing because of that pass rush but Ian Book is one of the best quarterbacks in the country on passes that only travel 0-5 yards from the line of scrimmage.

The wide receiver screen will probably be used more than we are used to today as well because of that pass rush.  Book’s been great at getting that ball out quick and on target to give the wide receiver a chance to make some plays.  This is another area in which to watch Chase Claypool today.

Distractions.  Notre Dame is playing in a baseball stadium in questionable uniforms with the playoffs on the line today.  There is a lot to distract this team, but unlike last year, this team seems to be well equipped to block out the distractions.  They spent an entire off-season preparing for November and after the first two games of the month, the results look very promising.

The conventional wisdom here says that all of the pressure in the world is on Notre Dame and none is on Syracuse, but at the same time, Notre Dame isn’t the program in this one that has been dreadful for an entire decade and is aching for a big statement win.  Syracuse is and with that comes some pressure as well.

Players to Watch This Week

  • Chase Claypool – Think we see him go over 100 yards for the second time this season
  • Dexter Williams – Didn’t mention him above but I will be shocked if he does not top 100 yards again this week and inch closer to 1,000 on the season.  Last time Dexter Williams faced Syracuse he made a video game style run.  I think we see more fireworks  today.
  • Ian Book – All Notre Dame fans will be holding their breath every time he gets hit.  Don’t be surprised, however, to see a designed Book run early in the game to force Syracuse to respect him in the  run game.
  • Julian Okwara – Notre Dame needs to make Eric Dungey feel uncomfortable out there today and need Okwara to do so.
  • Tommy Kraemer / Trevor Ruhland – The Irish need the offensive line to give Book time to throw today so it will be interesting to see which guard gets more time today.  Kraemer has been the best we’ve him all year the last two weeks, but run blocking has always been his strength.

Prediction Time

I have grown increasingly confident about this one as the week as progressed which usually terrifies me.  I like to have a healthy level of paranoia on game day each week.  Still I look at the matchup here and think that the Irish are set u well to handle Syracuse.  Everyone likes to point to the Clemson game, but let’s be honest, if Trevor Lawrencce doesn’t get hurt that game isn’t as close as it was.  They are a good football team, but I think they’ve risen higher in the rankings than perhaps their level of play has warranted.

I do expect Syracuse to come out early and have success moving the football as mentioned above.  Clark Lea is going to force them to go 10-12 plays each time they want to score.   They’ll settle for some field goals early while the Irish will respond with some touchdowns.  Once they do get a lead and are able to release the pass rush, the Irish will pull away.

Notre Dame 42, Syracuse 23

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52 Comments

  1. My Dear Old Dad, God rest his soul as well, used to say “never bet against Joe Louis, the New York Yankees, or Notre Dame” (although he was a White Sox fan to his core, as are all true Southsiders).

    BGC ’77 ’82

  2. Notredame needs to come out blazing right from the start next week and bury sc. Don’t give them any hope at all.The thing that bothered me yesterday was the penalty s drops and mistakes in the red zone.That will not cut it in the playoff should Notredame beat USC. Also I can’t figure out Newsome. His inconsistency is baffling.

  3. ELEVEN.
    I told you “8 and 4 folks” I could count to eleven before you could count to four.

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. My Old man, God Rest Him was just another subway alum type, has to be finally smiling with this undefeated season. SFR, has brought Him back all season. Although Pops isn’t as bad as one of my brothers who would throw things at the tube. We were going to put up roll up screen after things went bad. More than a few moments in today’s game I thought I was watching Joe, the Babe, Reggie, Lou, Mickey, Mariano. Those pinstripes were real WINNERS.

  4. Solid win, against a top 15 team, in the Orange backyard.

    Time to cleanup a few issues on the O line and in the RZ.

    Little Davey, were are you?

      1. Perhaps his mom didn’t pay for internet service for little David.

        I kind of miss him. He was our good luck charm this season! The more smack he tried talking the more ND won.

        Must drive little David crazy!

      2. Rob there used to be a lot of characters on this site commenting during games. Seems a lot of those people have lost interest in this site. Just not the same anymore.

  5. OK, I,m wrong again. Gilman gets the game ball. Cuse sportswriter got mixed up, thought OUR QB was gonna get knocked out. Jeff, ND club of the great OC buses fans in. The rose garden adjacent to Coliseum is world class. SFR, yeah Irish sloppy in some areas. But, this is college ball, not the Steelers. Beating up Cuse may turn some heads and consider Irish a real possibility for that Championship.

  6. Now it’s time for plan B!

    The D just need to keep bringing it!

    Don’t give the Cuse a glimmer of hope.

    Now this O line and run game are a real problem; it seems that when a team takes it away it takes it away all game. Gladly, Book has shown he can beat you throwing!

    There’s no way this team is unbeaten with BW. He just can’t throw consistently. I can see, for instance, ND losing to Pitt if BW had played all game.

    Time to look at RZ O and the running game this week.

    GO IRISH!

  7. This RZ O is a big problem right now. This O line is getting manhandled in the run game by the Orange D. Anyone see something else with the rose-colored lenses?

    If ND can’t run on the Cuse it won’t on Bama or Clemson.

    1. So you’re happy settling for FGs, Jeff?

      Do you think ND beats Bama or Clemson doing that? You do know that’s who ND will play in the POs if they make it, right?

      The D has stepped up!

      But you do realize ND got a major break playing against a backup, right?

      Now it’s time to put the Orange away for good with a TD.

      Go Irish!

      1. No Rob Im not happy setting for FGs but that’s how the game is playing out today. The Irish look Flat on Offense, Book doesn’t look right and the O line is garbage today. But D is playing well and so far deep in 3rd qtr pitching a shutout. Ill take that anytime. Clemson and Bama are at another level cant do anything about that. Maybe the stars line up when we see them.

      2. Jeff,

        Beat SC and ND will and no amount of wishful thinking will help.

        ND has to look at some of its issues on the O line (like false starts!) and in the RZ.

        I don’t think the O was flat at all, Jeff. It moved up and down the field. The RZ was the issue, along with the running game. I don’t know why we didn’t see DW more, though.

        But great D for sure.

  8. Jeff, before you get out to the links, you got me on this one. Break out the shades and sun glasses. Irish heading west again. Look for my brother leading Fightin Irish bag piper parade outside Coliseum. SFR, now you got time to fix Son of Frankenstein.

    1. Hopefully you won’t have to eat those words, GK!

      ND needs to stop the Cuse on their opening drive and score a TD on to then be able to start getting after them to finish the Orange off!

      Go Irish!

    2. Greg, I wont be going to the game in South Central next week. I only go every other year when the Irish come out here to play Stanford. easier drive and nicer environment. LA is a Shithole. You should check on your buddy Rob I think he has been sniffing the Testers Red Tube glue again while attempting to fix Son of Frankie

  9. I guess you haven’t watched a lot of college football, Jeff, if you think 20 is safe these days.

    Maybe it is for today.

    But you won’t win in the POs settling for FGs or failing on 4th down!

  10. Another game changing shit fest right there, Jeff!

    Syracuse gets ball at 20! Made the decision to go for it disastrous.

    This is shaping up as one of those games where a team hangs around and comes back to win. Someone tell me they haven’t seen those kinds of games?

    I’m beginning to get a real bad feeling about this one, guys.

    The D will have to keep the Cuse under 20.

    1. Jeff says to relax, GK.

      This isn’t an elite team right now. Just gave up a long run on third and long. Are you kidding me!

      Orange score here ND’s in trouble!

  11. What a shit fest right there!

    ND receivers can’t seem to stay upright after contact and pick up a few more yards or even go a long way.

    Miles Boykin drops another easy pass.

    IB can’t make a throw with pressure (like the elite QBs can!).

    Newsome gets off another shitty punt in his mediocre and inconsistent career!

    Garbage series!

      1. Should be a lot more that, Jeff boy!

        How much college football have you seen? You mean to tell me that 13-0 is a safe lead in this era of college football?!

        Please!

    1. Defense is playing great Rob I think your expectations are a little out of whack I agree offenses been a shitshow with a lot of dumb penalties but the Irish are up 20 zip

      1. My expectations are for ND to score as much as possible! Disagree with that?!

        Do you think you beat Bama or Clemson in the POs squandering EZ opportunities, Jeff?!

        I’ll relax when ND gets up by four scores.

        Go Irish!

  12. So far both ND lines are getting pretty much manhandled by the Orangemen. can’t run on O and getting gashed on run D. Very troubling!

  13. Not championship caliber football by ND in the RZ by the ND O!

    Like I said hopefully won’t hurt this game but won’t win a PO game by kicking FGs against Bama or Clemson!

    Go Irish!

  14. Imagine the uproar from across Big Ten and SEC territories if Notre Dame was tied with the Citadel at halftime.

  15. Everyone mentions the field and stadium as potential problem/distractions for the Irish, but Syracuse plays in a dome. When was the last time they played outside in a cold weather game? Syracuse is overrated. ACC is terrible. Irish roll 45-20

  16. What worries me is the pass rush of Syracuse from the outside and their blitz packages. Syracuse will gamble to make the sack or loss; what have they to lose?
    Hainsey and Eichenburg have struggled with very good DEs. Wimbush’s escapability is taken for granted. But how fully recovered is Book? TEs helping out with the blocking might be necessary to protect IB. Like Frank said, screens and slants might be in order for today. And when in trouble, throw it up to the taller receivers and give them the chance to make a play.
    With the threat of chunk plays by Syracuse, here’s hoping ND, if they take a two-score lead, don’t lapse into playing “not to lose”, which too often puts a team in the position to lose. Keep the pressure on Dungy, even if that means rushing a LB or S, and keep aggressively trying to score regardless of the score. What doesn’t worry me is not seeing the tenacity and big play ability on both sides of the ball from this ND team. Go Irish!

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