Notre Dame Football: Irish travel to Yankee Stadium to face Syracuse

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 28: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish salute fans after winning against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 28, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 28: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish salute fans after winning against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 28, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame football renews its annual Shamrock Series game this season by traveling to the Big Apple to face the Syracuse Orange. 

Essential Information
Opponent: Syracuse Orange (8-2)
Last week: Defeated Louisville, 54-23
Date: November 17, 2018
Location: Bronx, New York (Yankee Stadium
Forecast: High 40’s, Very little chance of precipitation
Time/Channel: 2:30pm on NBC

Top Storyline: Surprising Syracuse in the midst of best season since 2001:

Prior to the season, the general belief was that Syracuse was good enough to fight for bowl eligibility, something the Orange hadn’t been since 2013.

Not only has Dino Babers and his Orange reached that goal, but at number 12 in the Playoff poll, they’re 8-2 with ten wins in reach. Not only that, they were a Clemson touchdown with 14 seconds remaining away from a possible ACC Championship berth. Their other loss was to Pitt, which while that sounds bad, but Pitt could reach 8 wins and is in line to win the ACC Coastal.

This has been a great year for the team, although aside from North Carolina State, they don’t really have any wins over quality teams (sorry, Florida State.) That doesn’t mean they’re not a good team, but they’re also not in the same class with LSU, Washington State or maybe even UCF. But Syracuse does have some real threats on both sides of the ball that could make things very interesting.

Key Notre Dame offensive player: Quarterback Ian Book:

After missing last week’s game against Florida State, Book returns to face a Syracuse team that he could put up huge numbers against.

Syracuse has one of the more complicated pass defenses in the country, giving up 263.1 yards per game through the air (108th in the nation.) On the flip side, opponent completion percentage is only 56% (32nd) and have intercepted 14 passes (6th) with 33 sacks (9th.)

Book, of course, leads the country in completion percentage at 74% while averaging 304 yards per game. (Side note: based off averages, of Book had started all 10 games, he’d be around 6th-9th in pass yards on the season.)

Book is going to need to show up and play a big game. Syracuse is a team that can have an explosive offense at times, and if this game turns into a shootout, Book’s performance is vital to the team.

Key Syracuse offensive player: Quarterback Eric Dungey:

As our own Jordan Small pointed out earlier this week, Eric Dungey is truly an elite athlete and game changer for the Orange.

Dungey has been one of the most underrated quarterbacks in college football for two years now. He’s an electric playmaker that can hurt you with both his arm and his feet.

He showcased his arm a few weeks ago against North Carolina State when he threw for 411 yards and 3 touchdowns. His legs were on display at the beginning of the season when he rushed for 200 yards against Central Michigan.

On the season, he’s got 2,193 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also leads the team in rushing with 690 yards and 12 touchdowns. The very definition of “duel threat.”

Dungey will be up against one of, if not the, best defenses he’s faced this season. Although, people said that about Clemson last year, and all he did was throw for 278 yards, run for 61, account for three Orange touchdowns and lead Syracuse to a shocking upset over the Tigers.

Dungey has proven he will show up in big game. In one of the biggest games of his career, that’s exactly what the Orange need.

Key Notre Dame defensive player: Linebacker Te’von Coney:

I didn’t want to repeat the same pick as last week. But with a duel threat quarterback like Dungey, you need a player that can be all over the field. That’s exactly what Coney brings.

Coney leads the team in tackles by almost 30 and it’s not because he stays in one spot all game. He can blitz, he can stop the run and he can drop back into coverage. At times, it feels like he can do all of those at once.

Coney has had four games with over 10 tackles this year, including four with 14. Given what Dungey can do, this could be a prime week for Coney to break his career high in tackles of 17.

Key Syracuse defensive player: Defensive End Alton Robinson:

Earlier, I noted that Syracuse’s defense has produced 33 sacks this season. Alton Robinson is a huge reason why. At 6’4, 249 pounds (roughly the same as Julian Okwara) Robinson has been causing nightmares for opposing quarterbacks all season long.

He only has 32 tackles, but his true value is in the pass rush. Robinson leads the Orange in sacks with 9 in just ten games. He’s great at causing hurries which is something that has to happen for the Syracuse defense to be successful.

Robinson leads a defensive line that in all honesty, all of them are key. Kendall Coleman in particular is another to watch, with 7 sacks. If those two play to their abilities, it could be a long day for Ian Book.


As a member of the ACC, Syracuse is no stranger to big games. The difference this time is Syracuse has something to play for other than “just” an upset.

If the Orange were to beat Notre Dame, they could very well enter the top 10. And with four teams ahead of them guaranteed at least one more loss, a New Year’s Day bowl game is not out of the realm of possibility.

Who would have thought in a month that includes Florida State, Northwestern and USC, Syracuse would be the biggest game of them all?

A win for Notre Dame insures another quality win on their schedule — something that according to some, the Irish desperately need. That would give them wins against three teams currently in the top 25, including over the 4th ranked Michigan Wolverines.

For the record, Alabama has 2 current top 25 wins, Clemson has 1 and Michigan has two. Not bad for a team that some say may not make the playoffs if it came down to them or a one loss team.

Syracuse’s ability to get to the quarterback is the main concern for the Irish. Not just sacks, but hurries that could lead to mistimed throws that end up going the wrong way. But against an offensive line the caliber of Notre Dame, that could be a challenge.

Syracuse’s up tempo offense may not work in its favor, either. As long as the Irish defense shuts down Eric Dungey, that means the athletic receivers also have a rough go of it. That puts the ball right back in the hands of Ian Book, who could lead the offense to putting up quite a few points.

I think the Notre Dame offensive line can shut down — or at least slow down — the defensive line of Syracuse. Once that happens, the rest of the Orange defense doesn’t match up well. Notre Dame is capable of scoring often, and Syracuse is plenty capable of allowing it to happen.

The game may be played in New York City, but Notre Dame will take this game to Blowout City.

Next. Staff Predictions against Syracuse. dark


Syracuse 23, Notre Dame 52.