Sure, Syracuse dropped its last game to the Maryland Terrapins, 34-20. Now they’re 2-1 and likely to be back at .500 after Saturday at MetLife Stadium against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. But, the Orange always seems to win a game it isn’t supposed to.
Notre Dame is a team reborn with Everett Golson back in the fold in South Bend. The senior quarterback missed last season for academic reasons, but is a man possessed on the field this year. He has already thrown for 780 yards through just three games, already passing for seven touchdowns and rushing for another four. However, he is yet to turn the ball over for the Irish.
Syracuse, in two games, has struggled against dual-threat quarterbacks. John Robertson and FCS Villanova took the Orange to double overtime and sixth-year Terrapins senior C.J. Brown beat the team in the Dome a couple days ago.
Notre Dame is currently ranked No. 8 in the new AP poll. They have dominating wins against Rice and Michigan, and a convincing win against Purdue. The team did not play last week due to a bye.
The Fighting Irish’s greatest strength this season is defense. The team shut out Michigan and is only giving up 10.3 points per game, third-best in the country. This means that the Orange is going to have to be able to capitalize on the few opportunities it may get. Unlike last week, Terrel Hunt is going to need to find a way to get the ball into the end zone. It isn’t going to be easy because the Irish are among the leaders in the country in red zone defense.
While one of the best defenses overall in the country, the Irish passing defense is rather average. Allowing 216 yards per game through the air, the team ranks 47th in the country. Syracuse’s best strength – its rushing game – will be rather ineffective. Notre Dame is surrendering only 99 rushing yards per game, 19th best in the country. This means that the passing game will be key for the Orange to move the ball downfield.
Notre Dame also has the best turnover margin in the country, and leads the nation in red zone offense percentage.
Receiver Ashton Broyld will be out with a lower body injury, meaning that Hunt will be missing one of his favorite targets. Instead, the quarterback will have to find other receivers to get the ball to. George McDonald will have to change his play calling a little bit to make up for the absence of Broyld.
Notre Dame will also be missing a key offensive weapon, wide receiver Amir Carlisle. He is the third-leading receiver on the team and is out with a knee injury. Torii Hunter, Jr. – son of Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter – is expected to make his collegiate debut.
Both teams have struggled as of late at MetLife. The Orange lost to Penn State last season to start the year, and the Irish lost to Navy at Metlife in 2010. Syracuse last beat a top-10 opponent in 2012, when they defeated Louisville at the Dome in convincing fashion.
Posted: Jason Weingold