The Notre Dame football program desperately needs a victory to change the outside perception of the new coaching staff.
The Notre Dame football team enters Saturday’s contest with a lackluster 4-3 record. Against UNLV, the Irish solidified many beliefs that this year’s team is more like the 2016 team than the squads that followed that disastrous campaign.
Here are bold predictions for Notre Dame’s first trip to Syracuse, New York since 2003.
Notre Dame football at Syracuse: Bold predictions in Week 9
Drew Pyne bounces back
Starting quarterback Drew Pyne plays twice as well away from Notre Dame Stadium. At home, the 6’0″, 198 lbs. signal-caller averages 131.5 yards passing. Away from home, Pyne throws for an average of 275.5 points per contest.
These numbers become even stranger when the quality of opponents is factored in. In five starts, Pyne faced California, North Carolina, BYU, Stanford, and UNLV. Despite the outcomes, North Carolina and BYU probably rank as the best teams on that list.
A more focused Pyne plays at a level equal to his performances against North Carolina and BYU.
The defense plays a huge role
The Irish defense actually allows more points on the road than at home. At home, Notre Dame allows 20.0 points. On the road or at a neutral site, the Fighting Irish give up 24.3 points.
However, the road opponent offenses rank much better than those squads who faced the Notre Dame football team in South Bend. Ohio State, North Carolina, and BYU collectively average 40.5 points per game. The quartet of Marshall, California, Stanford, and UNLV score 25.8 points on average.
At home, the Al Golden-led squad allows 5.8 points less than the opponent’s average. Away from the friendly confines, the defense performance has been much better – allowing 16.2 points lower than expected.
The Notre Dame defense rises to the occasion and holds Syracuse well below their season average.
Notre Dame breaks trend, upsets Syracuse
According to Odds Shark’s historical database, in the last 30 games as a road underdog, the Notre Dame football possesses a 7-23 overall record. Currently, Caesars Sportsbook favors Syracuse by 2.5 points over the Fighting Irish.
This season, the Irish play much better away from Notre Dame Stadium. At home, Notre Dame scores 25.8 points while putting up 27.7 points on the road. The difference in output does not illustrate how much better the Irish perform on the road. A softer home schedule is probably to blame for this discrepancy.
The Notre Dame football team takes on Syracuse in Week 9, and the Orange QB, Garrett Shrader, is definitely going to be a tough assignment for the defense.
On paper, Syracuse looks like an almost certain winner against the Irish. The lack of consistency remains the only constant for the Notre Dame football program. The Irish defy logic and play one of its best football games on Saturday. An earlier kickoff time likely negates some of Syracuse’s home-field advantage as the Orange suffer a hangover from the Clemson defeat. The Irish buck the trend of road underdog performances and win a crucial game for the program.