They haven't shown an ability to do that so far in 2005. The Orange rank 113th in scoring offense. Notre Dame is seventh in that category and average 24 more points per game. Running back Damien Rhodes is going to have to rack up the yards and the time of possession for the Orange to have a chance. Rhodes is averaging 86 yards per game and has had to be relied on even more this year with the inconsistency at the quarterback position. It looks like Joe Fields, an athletic 6-1, 210 pounds sophomore, will start for Syracuse but don't be surprised if Perry Patterson, a 6-4, 249 pound junior who has started seven of the Orange's nine games, sees some game action. Fields has not thrown for a touchdown pass this year in only 26 attempts while Patterson has tossed four scores to eight interceptions with a 48 percent completion rate. This offense has struggled all year long. It couldn't score at home last week against South Florida. There is no reason to believe that a trip to South Bend will cure their woes.
How many more school records will be broken on offense?
A new week seems to brings with it more records being shattered by the Irish offense. Brady Quinn broke three himself last week vs. Navy. Wide receivers Maurice Stovall and Jeff Samardzija have their fair share of new marks as well. The delete button is worn out in changing the Notre Dame football history book. The Orange do have the 6th best pass defense unit in the nation but four of the their nine opponents rank 102nd or worse. This will be the first time they've seen an explosive and dynamic offense. Syracuse gives up 189 yards per game on the ground. The weathermen are calling for cold and possibly wet conditions. The run game for Notre Dame should be getting a fair share of plays called their way. But Weis likes to pass the ball and unless there are gusty winds, Quinn and his talented group of receivers will challenge that high ranking the Orange secondary has achieved. A balanced approach, much like what was on display against Navy, should run roughshod.
Saturday is Senior Day for the Notre Dame team. This group of graduating players have been through a lot. A good case could be made that these seniors have gone through more upheaval and changes than any other class in Irish history. Just think about what they've experienced in their four or five years on campus. For them to get a taste of success and finish the season in high gear instead of reverse should be commended by all. Fans should stand and cheer anytime they get an opportunity to on Saturday afternoon for the senior class. It should be an emotional day for a lot of people. More importantly, it'll be a winning day. A 1-8 team with an offense unable to score more than 14 points a game cannot come into Notre Dame Stadium and compete with an Irish attack that puts points up on the board at will. Here's wishing that by the time the fourth quarter rolls around, the game is comfortably in hand and all 34 seniors (some of these can apply for a fifth-year) get at least a few plays of action for their last home game. This should be the case. Congratulations to the senior class for making Notre Dame proud. Notre Dame 45 Syracuse 14.