Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 3, 2016

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

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Page 40 of 55 OCT. 3, 2016 41 Louisville racked up 845 yards of total offense against Syracuse. Given Babers' history on offense and Notre Dame's recent history on defense, another 50‑43 shootout like the one against North Carolina seems possible on paper. OCTOBER SURGE The most successful month dur‑ ing head coach Brian Kelly's seven seasons at Notre Dame has been Oc‑ tober. Entering last weekend's home game against Duke, the regular‑sea‑ son record for Kelly with the Fight‑ ing Irish was as follows: • 19‑9 (.679) in September • 18‑5 (.783) in October • 16‑8 (.667) in November In the four seasons from 2012‑15, in particular, the Irish have excelled in October with a 12‑2 (.857) ledger. Five of those victories have come against ranked foes — and two others were at home against archrival USC. The lone two defeats were heart‑ breakers on the road that came down to the final play against defending na‑ tional champ and No. 2 Florida State in 2014 (31‑27) and at No. 12 Clem‑ son last year (24‑22) before the Tigers would finish the regular season 14‑0 and No. 1 prior to losing to Alabama in the national title showdown. Syracuse begins the October slate this year for the Irish, but it has been a tricky month in the past because of impending mid‑term examinations. Possibly what might have aided Notre Dame's success in October is some light‑at‑the‑end‑of‑the‑tunnel outlook from the football grind with mid‑term break occurring the same time as the bye week. Both Kelly and Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick have stated that the ideal time for the yearly bye is mid‑Octo‑ ber, when the football players, like the rest of the students, can go home for fall break and decompress a little from their daily demands. This year's bye comes Oct. 22, which coincides with mid‑semester break from Oct. 15‑23. Nevertheless, this will be the first time under Kelly that Notre Dame will have back‑to‑back road trips to make in October, first against Syra‑ cuse (Oct. 1), followed by the excur‑ sion to North Carolina State (Oct. 8). In fact, it is the first time the Irish will play consecutive weekends on the road in October since 2002, when it defeated No. 18 Air Force (21‑14) and No. 11 Florida State (34‑24) to move up to No. 4 in the national polls — only to lose the next week at home to Boston College. With Stanford looming Oct. 15, the road trips versus the Orange and Wolfpack both will be referred to as potential "trap games" on the slate. Knowing that the halftime break of the football season is coming after that Stanford game, it will be impera‑ tive to raise the level of play again in October to set up a possibly more ex‑ citing November, when Kelly expects this team to peak. DON'T GIVE IT AWAY TOO MUCH On Sept. 27, 2014 at MetLife Sta‑ dium — the same venue where Notre Dame and Syracuse are playing again this year — the Fighting Irish defeated the Orange 31‑15 despite committing five turnovers, four by quarterback Everett Golson, who also completed a school‑record 25 straight passes. The odds of winning a football game with a minus‑four turnover margin the way Notre Dame did are extremely slim, yet the Irish did so comfortably on that evening. This time, given Syra‑ cuse's more potent offense and ability to move the ball, the Irish can't afford to be so giving with turnovers. Last year at Bowling Green, Ba‑ bers' Falcons finished 13th nation‑ ally in turnovers gained (27) and were eighth in interceptions (20). The Syracuse defense is a mess this season, but that is all the more rea‑ son why Notre Dame cannot give it hope with some turnovers. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: SYRACUSE Despite turning the ball over five times, quarterback Everett Golson and the Irish posted a 31-15 victory in their last meeting with the Orange in 2014. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Predictions Corey Bodden: Notre Dame 41, Syracuse 31 Eric Dungey can spread it around and hurt the Irish defense. But overall Notre Dame is too talented on offense and will be able to outscore Syracuse if need be. Bryan Driskell: Notre Dame 51, Syracuse 31 Notre Dame has struggled to stop its early season opponents and the Orange have a potent offense. Syracuse will be able to keep it close for a while, but Notre Dame's offense should be able to control the line of scrimmage and create a number of big plays of its own. Matt Jones: Notre Dame 44, Syracuse 35 Notre Dame does just enough to snap its two-game losing streak, needing a big performance from DeShone Kizer to compensate for another poor defensive effort. David McKinney: Notre Dame 40, Syracuse 38 Didn't think there was any way Notre Dame could lose to Duke at home. Now I feel like anyone on the remaining schedule can beat the Irish. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 42, Syracuse 35 Barring a rash of turnovers, Notre Dame's potent offense should be able to get into the 40s. Of more intrigue will be how the Irish defense can handle the breakneck pace the Orange will employ.

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