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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

Observer Staff predicts Notre Dame vs. Syracuse

Aidan Thomas - Sports Editor

I have gone back and forth on this pick a lot. Notre Dame is 4-3 outright as an underdog in ACC games under their current arrangement with the conference. They're 6-1 against the spread. The Irish are 2-1 outright and 3-0 against the spread away from Notre Dame Stadium this year. Against Syracuse, the Irish are usually quite solid, going 7-3 in program history against the Orange.

Notre Dame's key to success is pretty clear. Get the ground game going. Clemson's top two rushers last week had 45 carries for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Notre Dame's offensive line has played well lately, and if the Irish can get their running backs rolling, their offensive ceiling expands. Defensively, the center of attention has to be Sean Tucker, who handles nearly half of Syracuse's offensive touches. He's an outstanding back that Notre Dame must key on.

Notre Dame plays well as an underdog. They play well on the road. They haven't lost a regular season ACC game since 2017. Analytics probably say Syracuse. My gut kind of says Irish, as their wacky season with solid road performances continues.

Notre Dame 27, Syracuse 24

Mannion McGinley - Assistant Managing Editor

The Irish had an excellent first quarter for the first time all year, leading to their biggest win of the season against UNLV. This week against the Orange, the Irish will have to establish some kind of presence in the first again in order to stay in the game.

That won't be the only deciding factor though. Yes, the Irish will need to make themselves known to start the game and keep it close. But then they will need to pull off a successful second-half surge. In each of Syracuse's three games decided by one score this year — including their loss to Clemson — the Orange have allowed at least two second-half touchdowns. Their offense has been subject to a similar trend, as well.

Another win for Notre Dame will require the Irish to capitalize on this behind their run game while the defense quells the Orange offense, but that won't be easy. Syracuse also relies on a ground game headed by a dual-threat quarterback, something Notre Dame has yet to handle perfectly. Entering this scenario away from home, the Irish will be tied with the Orange at the half before pulling away in the second, taking advantage of a tired Syracuse defense.

Notre Dame 31, Syracuse 27 

Nate Moller - Senior Sports Writer

Based on how the Irish have played so far this season, a win on Saturday against a top-20 Syracuse team seems unlikely. This Irish team, however, is anything but ordinary, as they have tended to perform their best against top-caliber opponents. In an ideal world, the Irish are able to run the football and exploit the Orange's weakness on defense.

While the Irish offensive line has shown glimmers of greatness this season, they have yet to put together four quarters of dominance. That is going to cost the Irish on Saturday. The Orange rank 10th in the NCAA in passing yards allowed this season, and they should be able to limit the production of Irish junior quarterback Drew Pyne, whose completion percentage has been subpar as of late.

The Irish are going to be forced to pass more than they want to on Saturday. And while junior tight end Michael Mayer will have another productive day, it won't be enough for the Irish against a really good Syracuse team. It seems like every time I pick against Notre Dame, the Irish play well. So I am picking against them again.

Notre Dame 17, Syracuse 28

Emily DeFazio - Associate Sports Editor

I am again unsure of which direction to go on this one. Every time I think I have a grasp on how the Irish will perform, a curveball gets thrown into the mix. While I am glad the team is coming off of a win for this one, they are also not too far past a painful and unexpected loss to Stanford.

Syracuse is not to be taken lightly. They are a top-20 team that will be playing in an electric home atmosphere. Regardless of whether Notre Dame wins or loses, it will be a battle, against both the physical players and the crowd. However, it seems like the Orange tends to falter in the second half, which the Irish must capitalize on.

This will have to be one of those games where the team has a late surge, most likely through the use of the running back corps — specifically, sophomore Audric Estime — and a potential Mayer touchdown to rack up points and cover any potential weaknesses. If the Irish do not allow the environment to get to them and focus on escalating their caliber of play late in the game, they may just come away with a much-needed win before their long-awaited meeting against Clemson in South Bend.

Notre Dame 28, Syracuse 24

Madeline Ladd - Associate Sports Editor

The No. 16 Orange are coming off a deflating loss against No. 5 Clemson last week. Will they be back with a vengeance against the Irish? Though Notre Dame had a solid win against UNLV last weekend, it is not telling. A ranked team matchup will be a true test of where the Irish are at.

In terms of the offense, I’m not sure what to expect from Pyne. He plays great on the road but seems to crumble at home. He must find other receivers instead of zoning in on just Mayer. Sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Styles needs to lock in and perform at the level we saw late last year. Tommy Rees must utilize junior running back Chris Tyree’s speed in the passing game. Estime just needs to hold onto the ball.

As for the Irish defense, they must put together two strong halves and cannot give up big plays like they have been doing. Pressure against dangerously mobile Syracuse QB Garrett Shrader is key. Like all games, this is a must-win for the Irish. However, they especially need a victory to go in on a high next week with Clemson coming to town.

Notre Dame 28, Syracuse 24

Liam Coolican - Associate Sports Editor

Syracuse proved they are a legitimate threat last week on the road against Clemson. However, the Irish match up well against Syracuse. The Orange have a beat-up defensive line and allowed almost 300 yards rushing last week against the Tigers. The Irish will likely look to follow a similar path to victory on Saturday. In the second half against UNLV, Pyne passed just eight times for 32 yards, while the running game racked up more than 100 yards as Notre Dame dominated time of possession. However, the Orange’s secondary is very good, which means Pyne may struggle if he is forced to pass too often.

On the other side of the ball, Shrader is an impressive dual-threat quarterback with nearly 400 yards rushing on the season. The Irish have shown they can limit dual-threat quarterbacks this year in impressive road victories over UNC and BYU. The Orange have plenty of other threats offensively, but the Irish defense should be able to slow them down as long as they can limit big plays. Overall, Syracuse is an extremely formidable opponent, but one which Notre Dame has all the tools to beat.

Notre Dame 27, Syracuse 13