Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish face #16 Syracuse in the Dome

The Fighting Irish are back on the road as they travel to the JWA Wireless Dome for the second time in program history.

After a lackluster victory on Saturday, Marcus Freeman eyes his second ranked win of the season. The Irish must play better than they have the past two weeks if they hope to knock off the #16 Syracuse Orange. A matchup that typically takes place at the Meadowlands or Yankee Stadium, will be held indoors as Notre Dame must navigate a hostile environment on the road.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: Saturday, October 29th at 12:00 PM ET on ABC
  • Location: JWA Wireless Dome, Syracuse, New York
  • Matchup History: Notre Dame is 7-3 all-time against the Syracuse Orange (Last Meeting 2020: Irish won 45 to 21)
  • Current Odds: Syracuse -3.0

Syracuse Details:

  • Conference: ACC (Atlantic Division)
  • Head Coach: Dino Babers
  • 2022 Record: 6-1 (3-1)
  • 2021 Record: 5-7 (2-6)

Syracuse Storylines:

Orange host the Irish for the second time at the JWA Wireless Dome. Although Notre Dame Basketball has played in the dome numerous times, the football program last visited Syracuse back in 2003 with a freshman quarterback named Brady Quinn. Neutral site venues have been the standard for Notre Dame Syracuse, but this time around the Orange will have the on-campus advantage.

Quarterback Garrett Shrader leads the Syracuse Offense. This season, Shrader is 124 for 178 (70%) with 13 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and 18 sacks taken. On the ground he has 99 attempts for 371 yards (3.7 yards per carry) with 6 rushing scores. The top receiving targets for the Orange are Oronde Gadsden II and Devaughn Cooper.

Gadsden II has 37 receptions for 593 yards with 5 touchdowns, while Cooper has 18 catches for 234 yards and 1 touchdown. The Syracuse rushing attack is headlined by Sean Tucker who has 129 attempts for 698 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and 6 rushing touchdowns.

Notre Dame Storylines:

The Notre Dame Offense continues to underperform. On Saturday, Drew Pyne went 14 for 28 for 205 yards with 2 passing touchdowns and 1 interception. Michael Mayer and a strong rushing attack were the two key factors to the offensive output against UNLV.

Logan Diggs had 28 carries for 130 yards on the ground and carried the workload. While Braden Lenzy got more involved with jet sweeps, adding 4 receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. The Fighting Irish must have Drew Pyne and the skill position players step up the rest of the season. If they fail to, Notre Dame could be sitting at 4-5 after they face Top-20 opponents Syracuse and Clemson.

The Irish Defense must play a complete game. The UNLV Running Rebels only scored 14-points in their past two games combined but managed to put up 21-points on the Fighting Irish, while going 2 for 3 on crucial 4th downs. It is frustrating to see the Notre Dame Defense hold strong against offenses like #2 Ohio State and #21 North Carolina but play to the level of their competition against unranked opponents.

Since the Notre Dame Offense is struggling to score, Marcus Freeman will have to lean on his defense to step up like they have at times this season if the Irish want to walk away with a signature victory. Redzone efficiency and the turnover battle will once again determine this week’s outcome.

Head-to-Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Syracuse Defense: The Fighting Irish are averaging 386 yards per game this fall, while the Orange Defense is allowing 296 yards per matchup. Syracuse came up 6-points short against #5 Clemson on the road last week and will be hungry to get back in the win column.

Not a single opponent has scored over 30-points against Dino Babers and his defense this fall. Notre Dame will have a major challenge on the road this Saturday.

Advantage: Syracuse

Syracuse Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Syracuse Offense is averaging 411 yards per contest, while the Notre Dame Defense is allowing 341 yards per matchup. Syracuse has won most of their football games behind a strong defense, while the offense has not produced a ton of points.

Al Golden’s group has been dominant at times but has yet to play a full 4 quarters on the gridiron. The Irish Defense is one of the worst units in the country for red zone defense and must find a way to limit the Orange to field goals in that area.

Advantage: Tie

Special Teams: Notre Dame’s kicker Blake Grupe is 8 for 10 this season with his longest make at 47-yards. Conversely, the Syracuse kicking game is led by Andre Szmyt who is 11 for 12 with his longest make at 50-yards.

Advantage: Tie

My Prediction:

Although Irish fans have waited 34 years for a national title, they must continue to be patient and give Marcus Freeman more time to prove himself. With that being said, this team was ranked #5 to start the year for a reason. Yes, Coach Freeman was left with question marks at quarterback and his starter was hurt in week two, but I do not like seeing the narrative of comparing his position in year one to previous Notre Dame coaches who were left with a whole lot less.

Tommy Rees is in his third season as offensive coordinator in South Bend, and it has been his job to recruit (out of high school or transfer portal), prepare, and most importantly develop quarterbacks and skill position players. If this were year one, I would understand, but if the players cannot execute it is on his shoulders as the coach and recruiter.

These next two weeks will be vital for momentum and offseason recruiting. If the Irish can knock off Syracuse and Clemson, they would be sitting at 6-3 with three ranked victories. Based on Notre Dame’s performances the past two weeks, I have the Orange winning by 4-points. No one is rooting for Marcus Freeman more than me, and I certainly hope my prediction is wrong this week.

Prediction: Syracuse 31 Notre Dame 27

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4 Comments

    1. Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn’t. We can engage in that sort of fantasy all day. What difference does it make. He’s gone, and personally good riddance. When it came down to it ND was never able to win the big games under BK. Sure, they’d make it to the playoffs, or a NY Day 6 bowl, then get beat, usually pretty handy. They were never going to win a NC under him. They’d always fall just short.

      Now I can’t say Freeman is the next NC level coach at ND. I hope he is. We shall see. But don’t judge too much by the first year. Many coaches have had fair to poor first years and went on to great success after. And many coaches had a great first year and tanked. Look at Weis and how far he fell.

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