The Orange didn’t trip us up with its rout of Louisville last week. Now, Syracuse has a chance to flip the College Football Playoff System upside down with a trip to Yankee Stadium against No. 3 Notre Dame.
Tyler Aki (9-1): Syracuse 37, Notre Dame 31
The Irish is about to see an offense it really hasn’t faced all season. Syracuse poses the threat of speed and a dual threat quarterback that’s one of the best in his systems in college football. The Orange hung with the Irish out of the gate the last time these two teams met up. But in 2016 Syracuse fashion, couldn’t keep up for the whole game. Now, Eric Dungey is a senior and is fearless of whoever’s on the other side of the ball. Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book is coming back from a rib injury just in time to face two of the most prolific pass rushers in the country in Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman. If the Orange lay a couple licks on Book early, it could aggravate his injury and completely change the dynamic of the Irish offense. There should be a pretty good crowd on hand given that ticket prices are sky high on the resale market, which should suggest that there will be a bigger contingency of Orange fans than the last game at MetLife Stadium. Not to mention the fact that the football gods will most certainly be punishing Notre Dame for these atrocious uniforms.
JD Raucci (7-3): Notre Dame 37, Syracuse 24
It’s honestly hard to believe that Syracuse is only a ten-point underdog against one of the biggest powerhouses in college football, but then again, this entire season is kind of hard to believe for SU. With that being said, this Notre Dame team presents a real matchup problem for the Orange. The Irish’s biggest offensive strength is their running game led by talented backs Dexter Williams and Jafar Armstrong. We all know that SU has had its fair share of problems stopping the run this season and Williams and Armstrong are right up there with the best running backs the Orange have seen. On the offensive side of things, Syracuse is going to have to contend with a ferocious Irish pass rush that has keyed a top-15 scoring defense (haven’t given up more than 27 points this season). Keeping the pocket clean for Eric Dungey might be the biggest key for SU to keep it close. Syracuse has shown the ability to play up to its opponent level a number of times this season (notably Clemson) and that should happen again for most of this game. It may not end exactly how SU fans want, but the Orange should impress at a high level on Saturday.
Jonathon Hoppe (8-2): Syracuse 35, Notre Dame 32
This team has defied the odds all season long. No matter the challenge, the Orange have delivered. Syracuse has eight wins on the year and is undefeated after the bye. Both those things seemed like a long shot in July. Dino Babers has stressed “belief without evidence.” Now, Syracuse fans have seen more than enough to buy in. Here we are again, with people doubting just how good this Orange team actually is. My take? They’re good enough to run the table and play in a high-profile bowl game. Notre Dame has been in this position before and they usually fall off at the end of the season. A perfect storm for a big Syracuse win at Yankee Stadium.
Thomas Shults (0-0): Notre Dame 42, Syracuse 31
This is easily Syracuse’s second toughest game of the year and serves as a good way to measure where the Orange are as a program. While SU played Clemson very tough down in Death Valley, Dino Babers seems to be the Tigers kryptonite. If Syracuse plays Notre Dame like it played Clemson, than SU is worthy of its No. 12 rank. However, as reported earlier this week, Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book will play. That makes this contest much tougher for the Orange as Book has a touchdown to interception ratio of 15-4. While neutral site games are always weird in the first half, I think the Irish figure it out and win comfortably.