Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish Host Syracuse at Yankee Stadium

After another dominating win, Brian Kelly leads the Fighting Irish into Yankee Stadium for the latest installment of the Shamrock Series. Both the Irish and Orange will be in the Top 15 for another historic matchup. Undoubtedly, this matchup is one of the biggest games of the Brian Kelly era. Syracuse gave Clemson all they could handle and will look to complete the upset this time against the Fighting Irish.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: November 17th at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC
  • Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
  • Matchup: Notre Dame is 5-3 all-time against the Syracuse Orange (last meeting 2016: Irish won 50 to 33)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -9.0

Bronx Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 0% chance of rain with a high of 47 degrees and a low of 32. Below is a look at the next 5 days leading up to the game (this will automatically update to be the most recent 5 days throughout the week).

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Syracuse Details:

  • Conference: ACC (Atlantic Division)
  • Head Coach: Dino Babers
  • 2018 Record: 8-2
  • 2017 Record: 4-8

Syracuse Storylines:

Different Storyline than the 2016 Matchup. When the Orange played the Irish in 2016 both teams were having poor seasons. After a Notre Dame victory, the Irish improved to only 2-3 and the Orange fell to 2-3. This matchup will be quite different. Both teams are in the Top 15 of the College Football Playoffs and are playing good, November football. A 10-0 Notre Dame team and 8-2 Syracuse will set the stage for a clash on the gridiron at the modern Yankee Stadium.

Just how good are the Orange? Syracuse only has 2 losses on the season. One loss came on the road against the #2 Clemson Tigers, by only 4 points. A game that Syracuse probably should have won, with or without Trevor Lawrence leading the Clemson Tigers. Their second loss was to the Pittsburgh Panthers in overtime, a team that will likely win the ACC Coastal Division.

The Orange are led by quarterback Eric Dungey. Dungey is 183 for 303 (60.4%), with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He is without a doubt, a strong dual-threat quarterback. On the season, Dungey has 147 carries for 690 yards and a blistering 12 rushing touchdowns. How the Orange utilize Dungey against the vaunted Irish Defense will be a major key to the game.

Quarterback Eric Dungey’s main receivers include Jamal Custis, Sean Riley, and Nykeim Johnson. Custis has 42 receptions for 748 yards, a 17.8 yards per catch average, and 5 touchdowns. Riley leads the team with 54 receptions, along with 603 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. While Nykeim Johnson has 33 receptions for 527 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Syracuse’s featured running back is Moe Neal, who has 199 carries for 716 yards and 5 touchdowns. Although he is the leading rusher, quarterback Eric Dungey is right behind him.

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Notre Dame Storylines:

Ian Book set to return. Coach Kelly has said that he expects starting quarterback Ian Book to start on Saturday. With only 2 wins between Notre Dame and the College Football Playoffs and a top 15 Syracuse team this weekend, I would be astonished if Ian Book doesn’t fight through any ailments. With all due respect to Brandon Wimbush, Book is the best quarterback on the roster.

Brandon Wimbush has a completion percentage of 53.5% and 6 interceptions. Ian Book has a completion percentage of 74.5% and only 4 interceptions (with twice as many attempts). Even as runners, Book is averaging 3.4 yards per carry while Wimbush is averaging 3.3 yards per attempt.

No one is debating who the better quarterback is at this point, but if Ian Book is under center this football team is on another level. For those who think Michigan would beat Notre Dame now, they need to look at Ian Book’s statistics as well as the fact Dexter Williams did not touch the field during that matchup.

Back to Yankee Stadium. The Fighting Irish have a long history of playing at Yankee Stadium. Knute Rockne started the tradition back in the 1920s. In more recent memory, the Fighting Irish have played Army in the Shamrock Series and Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. Even though Coach Kelly is a Bostonian and fan of the Red Sox, he will still be proud to wear pinstripes at Yankee Stadium this Saturday.

The Irish replaced a game at Notre Dame Stadium in November, in favor of a neutral site game against Syracuse (now a Top 15 team). I understand Notre Dame has a long history of winning at Yankee Stadium, but to play a Syracuse team essentially in their backyard will be no easy feat. Hopefully this decision does not cost the Irish a shot at their first playoff berth.

Running Attack is critical. Last Weekend the Irish ran for 365 yards against one of the better run defenses in the country, the Florida State Seminoles. Dexter Williams ran for 202 yards just by himself. If the Irish want to win these last 2 games, maintaining a running game will be crucial. Ian Book can throw the football, but it will be important to support him with the ground game so the entire burden is not on his shoulders.

Head to Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Syracuse Defense: The Syracuse Defense is led by a strong defensive line. Alton Robinson is leading the way with 9 sacks on the season. The Orange Defense also had 4 sacks against Clemson. However, Syracuse is giving up 26.5 points per game throughout this season.

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When Ian Book and Dexter Williams are on the field, Notre Dame is one of the best offenses in the entire country. Stopping both the air attack and ground game will be difficult for the Orange. I give the advantage to the Irish.

Advantage Notre Dame

Syracuse Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Syracuse presents a major challenge with dual-threat quarterback Eric Dungey. He has put up good numbers in the passing and running game. However, this won’t be the first time that Notre Dame has faced a dual-threat quarterback.

From top to bottom this Notre Dame Defense has playmakers. The Irish Defense has been dominating all year long and deserve the advantage in this category.

Advantage Notre Dame

Special Teams: Syracuse is headlined by freshman kicker Andre Szmyt who is 27 for 29 on the season. He has already hit 2 field goals over 50+ yards this season. Justin Yoon is a great kicker in his own regard, making 12 of his 16 attempts on the season.

Yes, Syracuse has the slight advantage with their kicker, but Notre Dame continues to have flaws in special teams. Last weekend, they had a kickoff sail out of bounds and allowed an extra point to get blocked. Poor special teams play could cost the down the stretch.

Advantage: Syracuse

My Prediction:

Notre Dame heads to New York to play Syracuse in essentially their backyard. Luckily for the Irish, New York is full of Notre Dame fans. I expect there to be more Fighting Irish fans in the stands for this game in the Bronx.

Nevertheless, the first key to this game is Ian Book and the health of the Notre Dame team. If Book is good to go, and Drue Tranquill continues to fight through his injuries the Irish will be in good shape. Syracuse presented many problems for Clemson, well before Trevor Lawrence got hurt. They even beat the Tigers last season.

The Orange are a good football team, but the Irish are a great football team. Dexter Williams and the run game will be vital to an Irish victory. Ian Book can pass the ball if he is forced to, but it will be in the Irish best interest to have a consistent running game like they did against a respectable Florida State Defensive line. I think this game will be close like the Northwestern game, but Notre Dame pulls away in the end.

Prediction: Notre Dame 34 Syracuse 24

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22 comments

  1. Bill G 10 months ago

    Please trash those uniforms. Get back to our uniform roots! Call the ND AD office and voice your displeasure. Dress them like great ND teams in the past. A travesty to force this on our undefeated team.

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  2. Bruce Gregory Curme 10 months ago

    Chris J…on your comment about the ACC being “absolute trash”…although I think that is exaggerated, I will say this: If BAMA somehow loses to Georgia, the BIG TEN will be shut out of the playoffs, while the ACC champ gets in (again). To say that the BIG TEN is the vastly stronger conference of those two is not exaggerated in any sense…the BIG TEN is second only to the SEC, and way way ahead of the ACC! So BAMA really needs to do the right thing, and win out. Then everyone needs to do the right thing and start the process of eventually moving toward an eight team playoff.

    BGC ’77 ’82

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    1. ChrisJ 10 months ago

      Bruce,

      It is Clemson and nobody else this year in the ACC. Everyone else has three losses or more. Clemson is probably going to play Pitt in their championship game who is currently 6-4. Clemson’s big win came against a 6-4 Texas A&M team. How this Clemson team is ranked ahead of Notre Dame is a total joke. The committee is currently discussing Michigan being ahead of us, which is absurd, but if they are talking about that, then how the hell aren’t they talking about how Notre Dame needs to be ahead of Clemson right now? We have the best win of any top 4 team period and probably the hardest schedule of any of them to date. Is it simply because Clemson beats inferior teams by 40+ and we NEVER do that?? That’s the only thing that would explain this thinking as to how Clemson is ahead of us.

      I will agree with you about the Big 10 if GA beats Bama. They will definitely be left out. Clemson will make it simply because they are undefeated. ND will certainly making it being undefeated as well. But if GA beats Bama, obviously the committee loving the SEC will put both GA and Bama in once again. And I think this happens even if GA smokes Bama.

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    2. ndcrazymike 10 months ago

      TRUE B G C but remember ND plays 5 ACC games a year!! The last one will be Saturday with Syracuse , let’s not bash the ACC till that games won!! Big 10 has MICHIGAN and OSU every other big 10 team has 3/4 losses and are mediocre at best!! SEC is always for some reason overated, yes BAMA is awesome every year but the IRISH have beaten LSU 2 straight times!! And lost to GEORGIA by 1pt last year, and GEORGIA gave BAMA a battle for the TITLE!! Let’s just worry about are season and everything else will fall into place! GO IRISH!!!

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  3. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

    Hey, GK,

    Huge props on your toy/models expertise!

    I have a large collection of vintage late 60s “Aurora” classic Universal monsters models (built and mint-in-box) and original “Planet of the Apes” memorabilia (including toys, loose and mint in carton and box).

    I have a unique bash up “Son of Frankenstein” kit model; it’s an original “Aurora” model that was added to to turn it into Karloff’s “Son” creature.

    However, my cleaning lady accidently broke off one of the legs. Any ideas of how to fix?

    GO IRISH!

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    1. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

      SFR, if you still have the leg go get a tube of Testers blue tube, it’s non-toxic. But, if you want a stronger Glue go get Testers red tube. It’s toxic needs to be handled carefully, vapor is harmful. Never heard of son of Frankenstein kit. I’ll have to check that out. If you have original King Kong in the hot rod that’s priceless. Wonder if there is Hunchback of Notre Dame kit.
      BGC, no worries, that was in SoCal where having others take tests for you is quite common. ( see USC football player scandal years ago) My favorite assignment was doing a trebuchet. The Dad would come over in His Ferrari and was very nervous checking His Rolex. My God was that job nerve wracking. He called me and was all excited that His son got Grade A.
      Someday, when I get motivated gotta build a model of the Golden Dome. If Irish Go 14-0 that may do it.

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      1. Bruce Gregory Curme 10 months ago

        Ha! Now that’s funny GK! I forgot that it was Southern California…that explains everything in one line. BYW, ESPN picked us as favorites to win every game, and you were the other early 12-0 picker! You both have a real decent shot at being right. Nice.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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      2. SteelFanRob 10 months ago

        Hi, GK,

        Thanks for the response.

        Yes, I have the broken piece. The model originally started off as a regular “Aurora” Frankenstein (non-glow-in-the-dark) model that someone added a “hairy vest” made of silicon like Karloff’s creature wore in “The Son of Frankenstein” (Basil Rathbone playing in the title role of Victor Frankenstein’s son).

        I won the model kit on Ebay, GK. It arrived broken, however.

        GK, I had an expert model builder rebuild it for me and touch it up a bit. (He told me that he used stronger glue because the silicon after-market piece was very heavy). He did a great job! It was a show piece in my collection given its uniqueness, GK.

        Sadly, my model builder is retired. Plus, he lives in Chicago and there’s no guarantee I’d get the kit back in one piece after he repaired it.

        I’m a collector and not a model builder, so I’ll have to look around to see if there’s a local toy/hobby shop around I can go to. There’s just not as many as when I was kid, GK. (At the risk of old “Duranko” or someone else sharing private information about my whereabouts I’ll say that my favorite back in the day was “Orange Blossom Hobbies.”)

        I only collect Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, Mummy, and Creature from the Black Lagoon models and toys, GK. But, yes, you’re spot on about the original “Aurora” hot rod models, they are pricey. But I was never really into them (I’m not really a car guy). They were too gimmicky for my liking.

        And, yes, there was (and are repros) of the Hunchback (I believe James Bama, who did the great box art for “Aurora”, originally used the Lon Cheney, Sr. creature but it was later switched to the Anthony Quinn version). I’m sure you can find built and in-box models on Ebay, GK.

        If you’re really interested, GK, I can ask my old expert model builder if he has any he’d be willing to part ways with. He really does exquisite model work, GK.

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      3. southside 10 months ago

        It’s kinda neat to have a conversation that strays from football. I’m into collectibles of all kinds although not on same level as Mike/Frank of American Pickers. The faces of Boris Karloff , Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney were the scariest ever seen on a tv screen when I was growing up. Next on list is actor Abe Vigoda–although he didn’t do scary movies.

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  4. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    BGC, talking about Science Olympiad, I owned/ operated a toy/hobby shop and got very well known, if I do say so myself. I even built models myself. Parents would come in and hire me out to build their child’s bridges for Science Olympiad. I often wondered what MY grade was. Can’t wait to see the Irish hanging around the Brooklyn Bridge.

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    1. Bruce Gregory Curme 10 months ago

      You built the bridges for them? Who in hell coached those teams? I hope it was not an Indiana school.

      BGC ’77 ’82

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  5. Damian 10 months ago

    This is a game I’ve been keeping my eye on since about 2 or 3 games in when I noticed Syracuse playing at a different level. What looked like a potential easy win may end up being one of the toughest games this year.

    I too am not thrilled Swarbick sacrificed a true home game for what will be in essence an away game. ND fans are well travelled but I think with this game being so close to Syracuse AND with the Orange doing so well this year the Irish will likely face a hostile environment this weekend.

    That being said they have done well on the road this year for the most part so I’m not as concerned about that. My major complaint with Swarbick’s move more has to do with forcing the team to play in NYC one week and then the next week having to travel all the way to the other side of the country. I have no problem with playing a tough schedule. I like that about ND, but this is a decision that makes things artificially tougher for the almighty dollar.

    But perhaps a silver lining will be since Syracuse is playing well and this will be a tougher environment then playing at home, maybe that will help ND in the playoff rankings a bit.

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    1. ChrisJ 10 months ago

      Damian,

      The ACC is absolute trash this year. Pitt, NC State, North Carolina, and Western Michigan, yes Western Michigan all put up 35 or more on Syracuse this season. Syracuse has played one team with a decent defense in Clemson, who I think we have a better defense AND offense than. Don’t be fooled by the close score against Clemson. Remember, their QB went out with a concussion early in that game.

      We should destroy this team, plain and simple. No excuses of playing away, their record, the hype of the game…we are much better and need to go take care of business in a convincing way. It’s time to start throwing our weight around against these inferior teams and put them away early just like we did with Florida State. Hopefully everything is starting to come together in all aspects of our game and we continue this momentum from Syracuse forward. Go Irish!!

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      1. jeff 10 months ago

        Right On Chris

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    2. southside 10 months ago

      Agree Damian. Irish beating #12 SYR in New York will look good on resume. I’m hoping Northwestern and Pitt reaching conference title games helps Irish out with SOS. Irish beating Michigan is huge.

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      1. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

        SS, the other night my Wife had to watch Longest yard because of Burt. My first time watching that. It’s a film to keep away from the team, learning bad habits costing hefty penalties, including ejecting. But, the faces of Richard Kiel ( Jaws) and Ray Nitshcke you wouldn’t want to meet them in an alley. My Wife is a movie aholic like I am with football. She knows Abe we’ll. She especially liked him as receptionist Angel in Touched by an Angel.

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  6. Chris 10 months ago

    Syracuse won’t be turning this into a home field. All of the Shamrock games have been hugely skewed towards ND fans. Also, when these two played in East Rutherford (same distance as New York City from Syracuse), ND fans outnumbered Syracuse fans. That game was considered a Syracuse “home” game by the way. They don’t travel. We do.

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  7. Bruce Gregory Curme 10 months ago

    Jack says it’s a home game, so it must be.

    BGC ’77 ’82

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    1. Michael the Archangel 10 months ago

      The pressure to win is as much on Big Daddy Swarbucks chasing the dollar all the way to Gotham as it is on the team.
      It’s never good when the biggest obstacle to the playoffs is your own AD.

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      1. Bruce Gregory Curme 10 months ago

        I remember some seeding meetings when I was coaching wrestling. It was practically a war to get your kids the best possible seeding, hoping to get some of them a shot at a conference championship, or a path to the state finals. Same thing for scheduling Science Olympiad events before a tournament. You, and your AD, do whatever you can to give your kids the best chance to win (and advance) as is possible. Is that really what Jack did here? Michael the Archangel has it exactly right in the above post, and whoever hit the “Dislike” button either never coached anything of substance, or hit the wrong button!

        BGC ’77 ’82

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      2. southside 10 months ago

        Well said MTA. Irish are taking steps to be in elite status. They finally got back to back double digit win seasons under Kelly. Irish can progress further with an 11-1 or 12-0 in 2018. 11-1 locks them in a Major Bowl at least. It would be a damn shame if Irish were to lose one or even two of their remaining games because of Swarbucks scheduling. Irish should beat SYR and USC — but team sure doesn’t need an Athletic Director screwing up things in November.

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  8. Greg Kelly 10 months ago

    I expect Julian Love to get the game ball this weekend. He is starting to remind me of Harrison Smith every game. Tune in Sunday night Vikings vs. Bears.

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