Notre Dame, fresh off a 42-13 beat down of stumbling Florida State, is two wins away from a playoff berth. Their next obstacle in their path is the 12th ranked Orange from Syracuse. The Irish have opened up as a 9.5 point favorite over the surprising Orange in a game that will be a “home” game for the Irish as part of the Shamrock Series but will take place in Yankee Stadium.
Syracuse (8-2) is 13th in the latest CFP Rankings but rose to #12 in the AP Poll this week after notching their 8th win of the season. They are 7-3 this season against the spread including a cover of a 21 point spread over Louisville last week – a win that ultimately led to the firing of Bobby Petrino. Side note, Syracuse put up 54 points on Brian Vangorder’s Cardinal defense. It’s nice to know some things never change.
Notre Dame is just 5-4-1 this year against the spread even though they are a perfect 10-0 on the season. The Irish did cover this past weekend against Florida State. Their other covers this season are Michigan, Wake Forest, Stanford, and Virginia Tech. The Irish have had a couple near misses ATS though, missing covering against Navy by less than a point and pushing against Northwestern.
It is a bit surprising to see Notre Dame open as such a big favorite over the 12th ranked team in the country with some questions at quarterback still. Ian Book is expected back for Notre Dame this weekend according to Brian Kelly yesterday, but as we learned last week, a lot can change between Sunday and Saturday. Even without Book, Notre Dame throttled Florida State, but Syracuse is a much better team than Florida State.
These two programs are in vastly different places than when they last met two years ago at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. Notre Dame turned in one of their best performances of the forgettable 2016 disaster of a season against Syracuse.
This season, against common opponents, Notre Dame has consistently outperformed the Orange. Syracuse beat Florida State by 23 (Notre Dame won by 29), beat Wake Forest by 17 (Notre Dame won by 29), and they lost to Pitt by 7 in overtime (Notre Dame barely survived to beat Pitt by 5).
Syracuse did, however, give Clemson all they could handle and nearly upset the Tigers back in early October. Syracuse led for most of the game but could not hold on to the lead in the 4th quarter. The 23 points that Syracuse scored in their near upset of Clemson were their lowest point total of the season. They have topped 50 points five times this season. Notre Dame on the other hand has not allowed any team to score more than 27 (Wake Forest).
Since the line opened at 9.5, most sportsbooks have already come down to 9 suggesting that a lot of the early money is on Syracuse. Given the large opening spread, that makes sense. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out throughout the week as we learn more and more about the official status of Ian Book.