The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-0) fight for their playoff lives once again Saturday night when they take on the Syracuse Orange (8-2) at Yankee Stadium.
Notre Dame’s football squad is coming off a throttling win over the pathetic Seminoles of Florida State in which the Irish did not even play their starting quarterback. The third ranked Notre Dame needs to win out to remain in the top four.
Their next test resides in New York City. The red hot Syracuse Orange have averaged over 44 points a game under Dino Baber’s leadership. Syracuse has stormed their way to the twelfth spot in the nation and look to play spoiler to the Irish’s playoff hopes.
The Irish open up as 9.5-point favorites, which is generous to say the least. They figure to have quarterback Ian Book back after he missed last week’s game, giving the starting nod to Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush did not play bad, but there is a noticeable difference when Book is not in the game.
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The key to beating Syracuse lies on the defensive side of the ball for the Irish.
Brian Kelly’s defense has quickly become one of the best units in all of college football. The Irish defense has only given up one passing touchdown in the past four games, and have only allowed 5.3 yards per pass attempt, which is good for second in the nation. Defensive linemen Jerry Tillery, Julian Okwara, and Khalid Kareem are a large part of the defensive success.
In order to beat Syracuse, they must stop their powerful offense, which has already scored a 50-burger on five separate occasions this season. Notre Dame is flat out a better team than Syracuse, but if they fall behind early, it could spell disaster for a team that struggles to score at times.
Notre Dame will likely win this game, in large part to their defense. Irish faithful should look past this game to Southern California, where the real concern lies.