Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-12.5) at Syracuse Orange
October’s not even here yet, and already Notre Dame’s (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) football season has devolved into a full-fledged dumpster fire. Effectively eliminated from the College Football Playoff, if the Fighting Irish can’t find a way to turn things around, they may miss out on a bowl game altogether for the first time under head coach Brian Kelly.
We’ll see if they can begin to turn things around this Saturday, when they take on the Syracuse Orange (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) at MetLife Stadium (12:00 PM Eastern).
This week, Kelly let go of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after a stunning 38-35 loss to Duke. The Fighting Irish have allowed 454 yards and 33.5 points per game to begin the year, but Kelly isn’t only focused on the defensive problems. According to the coach, “he’ll be evaluating all 22 of his team’s starters.” That includes QB and top NFL prospect DeShone Kizer (1,096 yards, 11 TDs, 3 INTs), who Kelly says, has been “below standard.” Notre Dame has averaged over 37 points a game on offense this year, so clearly Kelly has some high standards.
Against Syracuse, the Irish shouldn’t have much trouble getting a victory. The Irish topped them 31-15 two years ago in East Rutherford, and have the offensive capability to run over an Orange squad that is allowing 34.5 points per game. But the question remains: will the defense finally show up?
Led by QB Eric Dungey (1,367 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INTs) and WR Amba Etta-Tawo (40 rec, 706 yards, 5 TDs), the Orange average the seventh-most passing yards per game in college football. Their attack lacks any balance, though, as the run game averages just 3.2 yards a carry and ranks 111th in the nation in yards per game.
Perhaps this game serves as a wake up call for the Irish and their porous defense, but I’m not willing to bet on it. Cuse is 6-4 in their last ten as an underdog. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is 3-7 in its last ten as a favorite against the ACC. Roll with the Orange this week to keep it competitive at home.
Pick: Syracuse +12.5.
Photo credit: Ken Lund (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].