Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 19, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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38 NOV. 19, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI SHOOTOUT OUTLOOK The last time Notre Dame and Syr- acuse met on the gridiron was on Oct. 1, 2016. The 1-3 Fighting Irish, who six days earlier fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, won a 50-33 shootout against the Orange at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Notre Dame rolled up 654 total yards, with quarterback DeShone Kizer completing 23 of 35 passes for 471 yards with three touchdowns. Syracuse amassed 489 total yards, with quarterback Eric Dungey com- pleting 31 of 51 throws for 363 yards while adding 49 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The combined 1,143 yards pro- duced in that game unofficially might be the most in a contest in- volving the Irish, and — thanks to a kickoff return for a touchdown by C.J. Sanders — the score already was 23-13 with 10:06 left … in the first quarter. Dungey is back for Syracuse and leads one of the nation's most prolific and up-tempo offenses again during a surprising 7-2 start through the first nine games. Through those nine con- tests, Syracuse was: • No. 8 nationally in scoring of- fense with a 43.3 average. In seven of those nine games, the Orange tallied at least 40 points. The two they didn't were a 30-7 trouncing of Florida State and a 27-23 loss at No. 2 Clemson — who it had upset a year earlier. • No. 15 in total offense at 478.2 yards per game. The beauty of it is the balance displayed with 274.3 passing yards per game (28th in the country) and 203.9 rushing yards per game (36th). Contrast that to two years ago and that Notre Dame game in head coach Dino Babers' first season when the Orange averaged 321.3 passing yards per contest and only 119.7 rushing yards per game. Last year, it was 294.8 passing and 161.5 rushing. With the threat of the run, more can be achieved in the fast-paced attack. • No. 4 in plays run per game at 85.2, after leading the nation last sea- son with 87.8. This, however, should not be alien to the Notre Dame de- fense, as it has already faced the teams that, entering the weekend of Nov. 10, ranked No. 1 (Wake Forest), No. 8 (Ball State) and No. 9 (North- western) in that category. Notre Dame's offense also became more productive after junior quar- terback Ian Book, who ranked No. 1 nationally in completion percentage (74.5) and No. 6 in pass efficiency (169.96 rating), ran it from games four through nine when the Irish av- eraged 38.8 points per game after producing only 23.3 in the first three contests when he did not start. However, Book was not available for the Florida State game Nov. 10, and his status for Syracuse was to be determined during the week of prac- tice. Even if available, some angst might remain about him getting re- injured. THE FINAL NOVEMBER PUSH The overwhelming priority at Notre Dame since last January was to finish strong in November, where its record was 9-12 in the five seasons from 2013-17. If you thought Notre Dame's fuel tank was practically on "E" over the final three regular-season games in 2017, the Orange was even worse, closing with 64-43, 56-10 and 42-14 defeats to Wake Forest, Louisville and Boston College, respectively. GAME PREVIEW: SYRACUSE Top STorylineS Senior left tackle Cody Conway and the Syracuse offense were prolific through the first two months of the season, ranking eighth nationally in points per game (43.3) and 15th in total yards per game (478.2). PHOTO COURTESY SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS

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