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Predictions: Notre Dame at Syracuse

| Friday, September 30, 2016

Alex Carson, Assistant Managing Editor

Notre Dame’s secondary isn’t particularly strong. Nor has the Irish defense shown a particular proficiency for handling teams that play up-tempo football. Syracuse has one of the nation’s best receivers, Amba Etta-Tawo, and has run more plays than everyone in the country, bar California. Oh no.

Brian VanGorder’s firing, while wholly necessary, isn’t going to fix these things in the span of a week’s practice. If you’re looking for a marked improvement from this unit — and at some point, you probably should be — I’d suggest being willing to wait until after the bye week.

When I looked at the 2016 schedule, I had a feeling this one could be a shootout. There’s been nothing from either team so far to suggest it won’t. And based on our last few data points, I find it hard to trust the Irish defense to get the key stop to win the game.

FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 42, Notre Dame 38

Zach Klonsinski, Assistant Managing Editor

The Big Apple is going to lead to big offense this weekend.

DeShone Kizer has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country this year, guiding the Notre Dame offense to more than 37 points per game despite the team’s 1-3 start. Syracuse and quarterback Eric Dungey have managed 28 points per game, and the Orange’s high-tempo offense theoretically should give Notre Dame’s defense fits, especially with the events of last weekend.

This game is going to come down to how Notre Dame responds: will Kelly’s comments after the loss to Duke spark his players or harm their confidence? If the young guns that helped the Irish secondary appear solid for stretches in the second half last weekend continue to grow, I’ll remain optimistic for one more week.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 55, Syracuse 31

Marek Mazurek, Sports Editor

Notre Dame has now become that friend who asks if he can crash on your couch for a few days. You don’t mind at first, but after three weeks of him not doing anything, someting has to change.

Brian Kelly sounded great in his Tuesday press conference. He said the right things and his decision to fire Brian VanGorder will, I believe, pay off sooner rather than later.

But the real problem facing the Irish is Syracuse. The Orange have a scary offense. They’re fast and receiver Amba Etta-Tawo is a beast who leads the nation in receiving yards. Stopping Syracuse is a tough ask after firing your defensive coordinator and I don’t think DeShone Kizer will have enough, despite another strong performance.

FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 49, Notre Dame 42

Ben Padanilam, Associate Sports Editor

Brian Kelly is probably right: The sky isn’t falling for Notre Dame. But at 1-3 and with the team’s performances trending in the wrong direction, it might start falling soon.

That includes Saturday. Firing VanGorder might be a long-term fix for the team’s defensive struggles, but it won’t solve much in the short term.

The Irish have developed a habit of disappearing in the second and third quarters of their games, and that won’t cut it against an offense led by the NCAA’s leading receiver.

The Irish will score their points, but with added pressure thanks to Kelly’s comments, Kizer will force more than he needs to and make mistakes when it matters most.

FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 35, Notre Dame 31

Renee Griffin, Sports Writer

The Notre Dame offense will score plenty, as it has all season. DeShone Kizer might even step up further after Brian Kelly’s criticisms of his play last week.

However, while Syracuse might not have the sheer talent of Notre Dame, the Orange boast a high-tempo offense with a top weapon in the receiver corps — a combination that, at this point, seems certain to destroy an Irish defense reeling from the firing of a coordinator and the humiliating defeat against Duke. It will take more than six days for Kelly and Greg Hudson to pull the defense out of the abyss Brian VanGorder dug.

So I decided to predict a score almost more reminiscent of basketball than football. It is Syracuse, after all.

FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 55, Notre Dame 54

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