HOW Notre Dame CAN WINBy Tim O'Malley, IrishEyes Whoever coined the phrase, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics" did not cover Notre Dame football during the Brian Kelly era.
Numerous indicators exist for a college football program's season-long, or long-term success, and I suspect for Notre Dame, they're not much different than for other programs:
-- Protect the football
-- Convert red zone possessions into touchdowns
And advantageous field position never hurts…
For the Irish though, a dedication to the running game stands above all others.
That is, when Notre Dame rushes the football more than 30 times in a game, they win -- a remarkable 37-4 during the Kelly era including 23 straight.
When they rush 30 times or fewer, just 3-11, including an 0-4 mark last season.
This tell-tale statistic could see a minute change with quarterback Everett Golson's passing prowess, but it's likewise notable that Golson's 2012 Irish were 10-0 when rushing more than 30 times -- just 1-1 when they did not.
In short, the will to run, no matter the circumstances, equals resisting the Siren's Song of the pass. And the Irish might not win when they come out throwing, but it's likely they won't win if they ignore the ground and pound element of their offensive attack.
Kelly noted last November after a particularly ugly victory over Brigham Young, "This is who we are." In that contest, the Irish ran, ran more, and ran regardless of the circumstances.
It's who they have to be.
HOW Syracuse CAN WINBy Mike McAllister, CuseNation.com
A little bit of wind was taken out of the sails of this matchup with Syracuse’s 34-20 loss to Maryland last week. Even with that, this is a huge opportunity for the Orange. Playing Notre Dame on the national stage with over 20 recruits in attendance gives Syracuse a chance to showcase the growth of the program over the last five plus years.
In order for Syracuse to pull off the upset, several things have to go their way. Head coach Scott Shafer has a formula for winning games. Win the turnover battle, rush for at least 50-yards more than their opponent, and prevent the big play. That will be the focus for the Orange heading into this one.
It all starts up front. If Syracuse is going to move the ball on Notre Dame, they have to be successful running the ball which starts with their offensive line. The Irish front seven has been stellar at stopping the run this season. Syracuse has been equally as strong in their rushing efforts through three games. If the Orange hope to pull this off, it starts with a strong running game that moves the chains and keeps the Irish offense off the field.
Similarly on defense, the front seven must be strong. That starts with stopping the run and making the Notre Dame offense one-dimensional. Eric Crume and Wayne Williams are critical to their efforts here as they look to plug the middle on runs between the tackles. If they do that, they are not out of the woods yet. The front seven must take their game to another level and tackle quarterback Everett Golson.
Mobile quarterbacks have hurt Syracuse over the pats couple of years and Golson may be the best of that bunch. Contain, discipline and excellent tackling will be needed by the Syracuse defense to limit Golson’s impact with his legs.
Terrel Hunt also needs to be very good Saturday night. Not only does he need to continue to make plays with his legs, but he needs to throw an accurate pass and find the open receiver. Overthrows, turnovers and inaccurate passes, similar to his performance against Maryland, will not cut it in this one.
If Syracuse can do things, win the turnover battle, and maybe even get a big play on special teams, the Orange will walk-off the MetLife Stadium field victorious.