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