Friday, November 21, 2008
Where Saturday Will Be Won
Notre Dame is riding a high defensively of late, pretty much handling both Navy and Boston College on that side of the ball over the past two weeks. This week a Syracuse team comes to Notre Dame Stadium for the Irish's senior day festivities. The first class of Charlie Weis' recruits have been through a lot in the blue and gold and would like nothing more than to walk off the field in South Bend one last time as winners and in a dominating fashion.
Syracuse brings amongst the worst run defenses in the nation to Notre Dame tomorrow. So far in 2008 Syracuse has held just one team to less than four yards a carry for an entire game and that was the vaunted Northeastern rushing attack. The game plan for Notre Dame should be very simple this coming weekend in that the Irish will pound the ball, pound it some more, and then some more after that.
With Michael Floyd out do not expect to see the Irish counting on Jimmy Clausen to win them the football game. Obviously there are still the threats of Golden Tate, Duval Kamara, Kyle Rudolph, and David Grimes amongst others but when a team allows this many yards per contest on the ground I expect to see the Irish counting on the running game to chew clock and score points. This will also set up the play action game if Notre Dame so chooses to go to it.
Cameron Dantley heads the Syracuse offense as their quarterback but has been far from outstanding this fall. So far on the year he has completed almost exactly 50% of his passes for 1117 yards and 9 TD's to go along with only four picks. He may not win the Orange the game but he will not cost them it either.
If Dantley is to throw the ball it will likely be to Dante Davis, a talented sophomore who is Dantley's favorite target. On the year they have connected 27 times for over ten yards a catch and one score. Other than Davis, Mike Owen may see a few passes thrown his way but don't get confused, the passing game goes through Davis for the Orange.
The leader statistically on offense for Syracuse is senior RB Chris Brinkley. On the year Brinkley has compiled impressive totals of just over 1000 yards on the ground and six rushing touchdowns.
On defense Syracuse has been a disaster. Only once this year have the Orange allowed fewer than 30 points in a game, even the Akron Zips were able to put 42 on them early in the season. As stated above the Orange have not stopped the run all season, but the Irish haven't run the ball particularly well outside of the Navy and Purdue games.
This is where the running game comes up big for the Irish as they will "run away" from Syracuse, if you will...
Nick: Notre Dame 31 Syracuse 10
Mark: Notre Dame 35 Syracuse 14