Through the first four weeks of the 2014 college football season, few teams have looks as impressive as Notre Dame. On Saturday, the No.8 team in the country heads to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, where the Fighting Irish will take on the Syracuse Orange.
Notre Dame will take the field for the first time in two weeks, coming off a bye week after a 16-point win over Purdue. The victory took the Fighting Irish to 3-0 on the season, outscoring their opponents by an average of 26 points per game.
In their final game before taking on their first ranked opponent of the year, Notre Dame will look to get another double-digit win. The betting odds at Las Vegas casinos have Brian Kelly’s squad listed at 12 point favorites. Notre Dame has covered the point spread in two of the three victories.
No team has been able to slow down Everett Golson, and Syracuse won’t have an easy time containing the quarterback. He’s thrown at least two touchdowns in each game and failed to throw an interception. In addition to his 780 passing yards, he’s added four rushing touchdowns.
The 30-14 win over Purdue proved to be Golson’s greatest challenge of the young season. The trio of Cam McDaniel, Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston totaled just 83 yards on 24 rushing attempts, and wide receiver Amir Carlisle didn’t play because of a sprained MCL. Carlisle and his 11 catches for 117 yards should be back for Saturday’s contest.
While Notre Dame will likely be getting back one of their top receivers Syracuse will be without one of their best playmakers. Ashton Broyld, who leads the team with 11 catches, is expected to miss a few weeks with a leg injury.
With Broyld out, much of the onus will be put on the Orange’s running game. Much of Syracuse’s offensive production comes on the ground, starting with quarterback Terrel Hunt. His 273 yards, which lead the team, have helped give Syracuse the No.20 rushing attack in the nation. Prince-Tyson Gulley has added 251 yards of his own on 7.8 yards per carry.
Syracuse could finally meet a team with the ability to stifle their ground game. Notre Dame ranks 19th in college football, allowing just 99 rushing yards per game. Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Joe Schmidt have combined to record 55 total tackles in three games.
At 2-1, Syracuse is looking for a marquee win. The Orange defeated Central Michigan 40-3, but barely got by FCS Villanova in double-overtime and lost by two touchdowns to Maryland in the team’s last game. Syracuse has not been ranked in the Top 25 since 2001.
Prediction: Even though Syracuse likes to describe itself as “New York’s college team,” the crowd at MetLife Stadium should be largely in support of Notre Dame. The Orange match up poorly with the Fighting Irish, and they could have trouble scoring points if Hunt and Gulley can’t establish the team’s rushing attack. There’s no reason to believe that Golson won’t have a big game, and Notre Dame should have another easy win.
Predicted Score: Notre Dame 38, Syracuse 20