I know I'm supposed to give you all the reasons this game could be dangerous. The Irish could come out flat. The Orangemen might show up on a mission. Notre Dame could have turnovers. I'm going to guess that if all three of those things happened that Notre Dame would still win this game. That's how much of a mismatch this game appears to be.
Yes, the Orangemen are ranked No. 6 in pass defense (yards given up), but they're also ranked No. 113 in scoring offense, averaging under 14 points per game.
And why would Syracuse be ranked so high in pass defense with an 1-8 record? It would seem logical that teams are usually ahead of Syracuse during the game and don't need to pass. Most teams would be running the football to run out the clock, thus the high ranking in yards given up through the air.
How good can the Syracuse defense be when they surrendered 38 points to Florida State, 31 points to Rutgers and 34 points to Pittsburgh?
Florida State threw for almost 400 yards and three touchdowns in their win, and plenty of teams have torched the Orange on the ground. Virginia rumbled for 227 yards, Connecticut rushed for 297, Pittsburgh dashed for 177, Cincinnati added another 182, and South Florida tacked on 338 for good measure. In fact, Pitt, Cincinnati and South Florida were their last three opponents and the Orangemen gave up an average 232 yards on the ground in those games.
Adding to the futility of the offense for the Orange likely is that nobody has stepped up at quarterback to grab the reins. Perry Patterson completes just 48 percent of his passes, and Joe Fields, the more athletic of the two, completes just 34.6 percent of his passes. The two have combined for just four passing touchdowns on the season while throwing 13 interceptions.
Syracuse running back Damien Rhodes in a nice player, but he also appears to be the only playmaker they have on offense.
In reality this game shouldn't be close and I doubt it will be. The only thing that will likely be in question on Saturday is which Irish players head coach Charlie Weis will want to beat the Orangemen with. Will he pile up yards and touchdowns on the ground or will he attack Syracuse through the air? He should have no problem doing either. But if I'm a betting man, I'd say the Irish run wild on Saturday.
Mike Frank Prediction
I mean no disrespect to Syracuse. They're a team finding themselves after a coaching change, but I can't see how they have any chance in this game. The Orange haven't seen an offense like the one they'll see on Saturday, and they can't score points on offense to stay with the Irish.
Notre Dame: 49 Syracuse 10