Notre Dame vs. Syracuse

The Sports Xchange

November 14, 2018 at 6:27 pm.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Yankee Stadium
TV: Bronx, N.Y.
SERIES: Notre Dame leads 5-3. Notre Dame won the last meeting 50-33 in 2016.
RANKINGS: Notre Dame No. 3, Syracuse No. 24

Fighting Irish

–RB Dexter Williams has been on a wild pace since returning to the team six games ago. Williams has rushed for 100-plus yards four times this season and cracked the 200-yard mark last week against Florida State.

–WR Miles Boykin has caught a touchdown pass in six straight games and will be going for a “lucky seven” against Syracuse. Boykin has eight touchdowns overall on the season.

–LB Te’von Coney leads the Fighting Irish with 87 tackles, including 8.5 for losses, and his production earned him a designation as team captain last week. Coney will need to be good again to slow down Syracuse’s potent offense.

–S Jalen Elliott leads the Irish in interceptions with three of the team total of nine picks. Elliott has broken up six other passes and recorded 54 tackles, fourth on the team. He has 23 career starts.


–QB Eric Dungey completed 14-of-27 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and one interception, his first interception in 129 pass attempts, in the win over Louisville last week. Dungey also rushed for 62 yards and two touchdowns, extending his streak to seven straight games with a rushing score. He now has 32 career rushing touchdowns, passing Duke’s Brandon Connette (31) for fifth on the ACC record list for most quarterback rushing touchdowns.

–RB Moe Neal finished with eight carries for a career-high 159 yards and two touchdowns against Louisville. He took his first carry of the game for a 67-yard score, his longest run of the season.

–DE Chris Slayton had 1.5 sacks against the Cardinals. He is now tied with LB Zaire Franklin and LB Cam Lynch for ninth on Syracuse’s career list with 31.5 tackles for loss.


No. 3 Notre Dame is poised for its first appearance in the College Football Playoff, but will to earn its spot playing away from home in its final two games of the regular season.

Before finishing at Southern California on Thanksgiving weekend, the Fighting Irish (10-0) take on surprising Syracuse Saturday in a neutral-site matchup in New York’s Yankee Stadium.

It marks one of the highest-stakes meetings in a series that started in 1914 and is the biggest game for the 24th-ranked Orange (8-2) since 2001 when then-No. 14 Syracuse traveled to No. 1 Miami (Fla.) and lost 59-0.

No one seems to mind that this meeting will take place at a baseball stadium.

“When I grew up, we grew up playing on the front lawns of junior high schools and high schools, parks, played in the street with cars parked there,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “If you get two really good teams that are motivated, they’ll really play anywhere. As long as it’s not concrete and (it’s) grass, I’m OK. I think they’ll be all right.”

Both teams have been better than all right this season.

Notre Dame is coming off a dominant 42-13 win over Florida State in its home finale and has scored at least 31 points in six of its past seven contests.

The scoring outburst continued against the Seminoles despite a change at quarterback. Ian Book could not play because of an injury to his ribs, and Brandon Wimbush, who lost his job to Book in Week 4 stepped into his old role and led the team.

Irish coach Brian Kelly joked about a quarterback “controversy” but acknowledged later that Book had returned to practice and is expected to start.

“We’re pretty clear that he’s ready to play,” Kelly said.

Even if Book isn’t available, the Irish have confidence in Wimbush.

“I just think that everything that he’s done leading up to last week was indicative of who he is,” Kelly said. “So I don’t know that anybody really should be surprised because he’s been really consistent in who he is, in everything that he does, both on and off the field.”

Kelly said there is “more to write here” about Wimbush, who threw for three touchdowns and rushed for 68 yards in the rout of Florida State.

“I don’t think it ends with last week,” Kelly said. “I think there’s more exciting things coming from Brandon.”

Syracuse also is hoping to write another chapter to its feel-good story. The Orange has won four straight games, scoring at least 40 points in each of those contests, to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013.

Quarterback Eric Dungey paces the Syracuse attack. He is one of only three active quarterbacks with at least 8,000 passing yards (8,665) and 1,000 rushing yards (1,929) in his career. The others are Trace McSorley of Penn State and McKenzie Milton of Central Florida.

Syracuse also has scored 32 rushing touchdowns this season, twice as many as last year’s total.

Kelly is familiar with the Orange from the 2016 meeting between the two and notes that several players from that game, a 50-33 Irish win, are back for Syracuse. But, he said, they are “much better.”

“They’re better on the offensive line, they’re better on the defensive line,” Kelly said. “The quarterback, obviously, is a veteran player that has seen it all, and a lot of the credit goes to Dino Babers for building the program up to where it is and they deserve to be where they are. And he’s got some good players that have stayed with it.”

Notre Dame hopes to quiet the Orange offense thanks to a stout defensive line, a pesky linebacker corps and a dependable secondary. Linebacker Te’von Coney leads the team with 87 tackles, including 8.5 for losses.

Babers said he knows he will have his hands full in preparing for the Notre Dame defense.

“They’re solid,” he said. “I’m looking for a hole, looking for a weakness, looking for a chink, they are extremely solid.”