The Syracuse Orange Football team is off to their best start in 17 years with an 8-2 record and a ranking of 13th nationally. Syracuse is coming off of a dominating performance on senior night against the Louisville Cardinals. Syracuse has a huge game coming up against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Yankee Stadium. I will be breaking down the gameday match-up with Syracuse Football keys to victory and my prediction for the game.
Syracuse Football Keys to Victory
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame is an independent school for college football which means they have to take advantage of their schedule if they want the opportunity at the college football playoff. Notre Dame started off the season with a huge game against the Michigan Wolverines and came away with a huge victory. Notre Dame then took advantage of a nice schedule with their next nine games playing only two ranked opponents in the Stanford Cardinals and the Virginia Tech Hokies. The Stanford game was the back half of a tough stretch for the Cardinals with the other game being against the Oregon Ducks. Notre Dame is in the college football playoffs as the number three team but their our teams breathing down their necks with some big games left on the schedule. The Fighting Irish will have the Syracuse Orange and the USC Trojans left on their schedule as a showcase for the selection committee.
The Syracuse Orange play in the ACC for college football and have had some great games this season. Syracuse is led by their senior leaders Eric Dungey and Dontae Strickland who are giving it their all one last time. The Orange started off their season 4-0 with a huge win at home over the Florida State Seminoles for their first win over Florida State in over a decade. Syracuse then went into Death Valley to take on the Clemson Tigers and played a great game before the Tigers scored the go-ahead touchdown with 40 seconds to win the game 27-23. Syracuse would then go on to lose their next game at Pittsburgh who has proven to be a bowl-eligible team this season. The Orange changed their season around after two straight losses with a come from behind win at home against North Carolina as Dungey was struggling and Dino Babers pulled him for Tommy DeVito who lead an overtime comeback. In one of their biggest games at the Carrier Dome against North Carolina State Wolfpack, the Orange won in a shootout and Dungey had a career day for Syracuse in a 51-41 victory. This is the best start that the Orange have been a part of in over 17 years with an 8-2 record and being nationally ranked.
Three Keys to the Game
1. Third Down
Syracuse has been up and down on the defensive side of the ball all season long but one area in where they have been excellent is getting off the field on third down. Syracuse is near the top of all college football in third-down percentage. Getting Notre Dame in third downs and getting off the field is going to be a key for an upset win for the Orange. Notre Dame seems to be rolling on the offensive side of the ball this season so Syracuse will have to play sound defense and be excellent with their tackling in the open field.
2. No Huddle
The Syracuse Orange have a new slogan on the offensive side of the ball which is “Orange is the new fast”. Syracuse has scored 50+ points in five games this season which is a school record. When the Orange get their offense rolling they love to go no huddle and keep their foot on the gas. If Syracuse can get in the rhythm on offense and wear out the Notre Dame defense then Syracuse will be in the right place. With their running game and their short passing game as long as their deep passing game, the Orange will look to put pressure on the Fighting Irish defense.
The offensive and defensive lines for both teams are going to determine the outcome of this game. Syracuse’s offensive line has been pretty good this season in the running game and blocking for either Eric Dungey or Tommy DeVito. Notre Dame always has highly recruited offensive linemen who end up being first-round draft picks. Syracuse has veteran leadership on the defensive line which was made a huge difference for them this season. Alton Robinson has had an excellent season rushing the passer and has been noticed by NFL scouts.
Notre Dame: Ian Book
Ian Book didn’t start the season as the starter for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish made a change at the quarterback position heading into week four of the season by replacing Brandon Wimbush with Ian Book. Notre Dame’s offense was struggling and the change sparked the team which put them in the position they are in now. This will be the biggest game of Book’s career with a chance at the college football playoffs.
Syracuse Orange: Jamal Custis
Syracuse has one of the best offensives in college football this season. Their offense consists of Dontae Strickland, Moe Neal, Sean Riley, Taj Harris, Nykeim Johnson, Devin Butler, and Ravian Pierce. The piece that makes the offense deadly is Jamal Custis with his size, speed, and athleticism. Custis has had an up and down season this year with his inconsistent play but when Custis is on his game he can be one of the top receivers in college football.
The Syracuse Orange always play to their competition but the last two weeks they have taken care of business and looked good on both sides of the ball. Syracuse could be said to be playing with house money at this point in the season but don’t tell that to any Syracuse fan because this is what they expect. I think the Orange will come out strong and be ready for this game after how they played earlier in the season at Clemson. The Orange know how big this game is for their season this year and for the future of the program. It will most likely be a shootout but I expect Syracuse to be clicking on all cylinders on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
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