SYRACUSE VS NOTRE DAME
Time – Saturday, October 1st, 12:00pm, MetLife Stadium
TV/Radio – ESPN, 99.5FM WTKW
Series – Notre Dame leads 4-3 (Streak: Notre Dame 1)
Last meeting – 2014, Notre Dame won 31-15
Coaches: Syracuse – Dino Babers (1st season, 2-2); Notre Dame – Brian Kelly (7th season, 56-26)
Turmoil – A popular pick during the preseason to make the college football playoffs, Notre Dame has struggled this season. The Irish are off to just a 1-3 start, have fired their defensive coordinator, and have many questioned the program's future under Brian Kelly. Will the Irish respond with a strong performance? Or continue the downward spiral?
Strength vs Weakness – Without question the strongest units on both squads are the offense. The achilles heel for both has been on the defensive side of the ball. In this matchup, the potent Notre Dame offense will face an inconsistent Orange defense while a blazing fast Syracuse offensive attack faces a struggling Irish defense. Whichever defense can make a few stops may the side that is ultimately victorious.
Location, Location, Location – This game marks the end of Syracuse's much maligned games at MetLife Stadium. The decision to hold several games there was met with much debate amongst the Orange fan base. Head coach Dino Babers has indicated he wishes to keep these games in the Dome moving forward. Have the games been successful? Off the field, yes. It has brought in a revenue stream to the program. On the field, Syracuse is yet to win one of these games. Saturday is their last chance.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Notre Dame Offensive Line vs Syracuse Defensive Line
Entering this game, the general consensus is that it will be high scoring affair with both defenses struggling to keep the opposing offenses off of the scoreboard. The winner may well be the team that is able to make just enough stops defensively. Watching both lines of scrimmage may will tell the tale there.
Syracuse's defense is predicated on getting pressure from their front four. For the Orange defense to try to slow down the Irish offense, their defensive line has to play well. They have to get into the backfield and disrupt the zone-read. Keep DeShone Kizer in the pocket and tackle well.
If the Notre Dame offensive line is able to control the line of scrimmage, it will be a very long day for the Orange defense.
Orange wins if …
They Put Together a Complete Game – There have been flashes on both sides of the ball of how the schemes can work. The offense has had drives where they march up and down the field with ease during stretches, but find themselves unable to score during other stretches. The defense has had similar issues. Such is life when implementing new systems under a new coaching staff. But to pull the upset in this one, they must be more consistent for longer stretches. Winning the turnover battle wouldn't hurt either.
Irish Wins if …
Kizer Takes Over – If DeShone Kizer can put together an inspired performance, he could have as big of an impact as Lamar Jackson and Quinton Flowers did against the Syracuse defense. If he is on top of his game, Notre Dame is the likely victor.
WR Amba Etta-Tawo – Etta-Tawo leads the nation in receiving and is fresh off of a record setting 270-yard, two touchdown performance against an NFL caliber cornerback. He is the clear top receiving option for a potent Orange passing attack.
Something to Prove
Syracuse Rushing Attack – It has been a rough season so far for the Orange ground game. There has been little positive consistency throughout the year. This is a prime opportunity to get going against a defense that has been quite vulnerable thus far.
Looking to Build
Syracuse Defense – Coming off of a week where the Orange defense held UConn somewhat in check in terms of yards per play, forced a turnover and made critical plays down the stretch, they face a much tougher challenge this week. The question is whether last week was a result of better scheme understanding or a weaker opponent.
Freshman to Watch
KR/PR Sean Riley – A speedy, shifty returner, Riley is dangerous with the ball in his hands. A big play on special teams could turn momentum for the Orange. Notre Dame has struggled on special teams this year, so Riley may have his shot.
Opposing Players to Watch
QB DeShone Kizer - Kizer is a tremendous talent who can do it all. He can deliver an accurate ball in tight windows, throw the ball down the field, make plays with his legs and read an opposing defense well.
RB Josh Adams - Adams is the top rusher for the Irish. He is averaging over five yards per carry and nearly 60 yards per game. A former four-star running back out of Pennsylvania, Adams can run with power and is also quick between the tackles.
WR Equanimeous St. Brown - Brown is a huge target at 6-foot-5. He leads Notre Dame in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns. He is also averaging over 17 yards per catch, proving he is a legitimate vertical threat.
DL Isaac Rochell - Rochelle has good footwork and is a strong kid at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds.. He leads the team in tackles for loss, and has a high football IQ. Dungey will have to be aware of Rochell's arms, as he is tied for the team lead with four tackles for loss. He will be a major test for the Orange offensive line.
LB Nyles Morgan - Morgan is an athletic freak who plays fast, moves well sideline to sideline, and can sniff out running plays. He is the quarterback of the Irish defense and has the only sack for Notre Dame this season.