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2020 Game #10 - Syracuse Orange

Updated: Dec 5, 2020



The Irish face opponent #10 in this 2020 football season as the Syracuse Orange come to Notre Dame Stadium. The ACC announcement this week concerning remaining league games means there will not be a regular season game #11 for the Irish. Thus, no wake for Wake.

Among the most disappointed by that decision was yours truly who will not be able to use some, in my words, “intriguing phraseology” or perhaps in your words, “dumb stuff”. Such as we are all aware that due to political correctness the Stanford teams are no longer “Indians” but the “Cardinal” (believed to be the color not the bird). Plus, we all know the Stanford mascot is a tree. Due to Covid-19, Notre Dame lost a game against Stanford and picked up a game, albeit temporarily, against Wake Forest. Thus, it would have meant the Irish did not see the Tree for the Forest? But let me not get logged into what will not be, whether with the Trees or the Forest, and get into something much more important -- the Number 10!!

The Syracuse Orange is among the leaders in games played during the 2020 season. They have played 10.

Unfortunately, they are also among the leaders in games lost during the 2020 season. They have lost 9.

10 is often the highest rating for many things such as “On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 the best, how do you rate Notre Dame as an academic institution?” 10!

The top 10 is often the goal of college football teams who seek to be ranked in the Top 10. (Of course, there are some who seek to be #1).

10 is the also the number of Commandments handed down to Moses for the Israelites to follow. Not two bad for others two follow either. (Sorry about the two two!)

10 is also the number of Amendments to the United States Constitution that together constitute the Bill of Rights. Top 10 stuff don’t you agree?

The Top 10 was also a recurring comedy skit on the Late Night with David Letterman television show.

10 is also the name of a 1979 romantic comedy movie starring Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews, Robert Webber and Bo Derek.

Bo Derek was a 10.

10 is also the number of paragraphs concerning the number 10 that precede this paragraph. You probably think I reflected on the number 10 because there is little positive to say about the Syracuse Orange and you would be correct, thereby earning a 10.

And when the time clock in Notre Dame Stadium reads 00:00, Notre Dame will have secured win #10 and Syracuse will have loss #10. Now, how will we get there?

Syracuse is a very young football team. Among its 22 starters are 5 true Freshmen, 3 Redshirt Freshmen, 3 Sophomores and 3 Redshirt Sophomores. The 2019 season ended with the Orange peeling away several players who completed their eligibility. That, of course, is true for most teams. Just look at how the 2020 Irish receiver corps is bereft of Chase Claypool, Chris Finke and Cole Kmet.

But then along comes Covid-19. How would you feel if the Irish did not have Kyren Williams and C’Bo Flemister, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Daelin Hayes. The Orange had their two top returning running backs, a top linebacker and a top defensive end opt-out for the season.

Then, during the pre-game warmup of Syracuse game #3, their top returning safety, Andre Cisco, who was counted among the best in the country, suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Even though he was just a junior, this “Cisco Kid” was “Andre the Giant” in the back of the defense. Consider no Kyle Hamilton in the Irish defense.

Want some more Syracuse sobering stuff? The top 5 tackles from 2019 were gone. Just consider no Eichenberg, Hainsey, Lugg, Carroll and Kristofic for the Irish.

Then, with no one to blame, the same fame of being lame came, not pre-game but in-game, in game 4 to QB Tommy DeVito. A real shame no 2020 game would remain for him to tame the opponent, especially with his surname of fame. In 2019 he passed for 2,360 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Orange needed an Uber Lyft for DeVito from the Taxi squad. Look, where would the Irish be without Book if he, after too quick a look, by hook or by crook, took off like an unseasoned “rook” and got so shook he babbled like a brook? Rees would have had to cook up a new look! Not a pretty picture!

Opting-out continued after game #5 as the fifth Orange peeled from the team.

How does your sports book look at this game? Irish favored by 33 ½ with the Over/Under at 52. The Irish should cover although I do expect some use of the depth charges by the beginning of the 4th Quarter. The Irish have been relatively injury free this season and until Patterson’s broken foot and Kraemer’s appendectomy the only impactful loss was Paul Moala. Remember him? How quickly the fans forget when Kelly’s “Next Man In” performs so well.

How does your sports book reach those numbers? Consider these:


Yards per game (O) 463.9 (#24) 250.4 (#126)

Yards per game (D) 303.4 (#12) 453.6 (#104)

I could go on and on, but the numbers do not look so good for the Orange until we get to these. Tied for #1 in the country with 22 turnovers. Irish are at #12. Linebacker Mikel Jones (#13) has 4 interceptions by himself. The Irish Team total is 5 interceptions. One Orange punt returner AVERAGES 14 yards per return based on just 12 returns. Like Allstate, the Irish are “In Good Hands” with Matt Salerno. Kind of like the baseball Third Baseman who is characterized as “Good Field-No Hit”. The Orange also own 1 of just 23 kickoff returns for a touchdown this season. The Irish barely sniff the 25-yard line on kickoff returns with the long being 38 yards, a far cry from the 98 yarder that the Orange’s Mykeim Johnson (#4) “Took to the House”.

The Orange has a nice receiver in 6’ 2” wide receiver Taj Harris with a 14-yard average on his 37 receptions and 4 touchdowns. Like Avery Davis he wears #3. Candidly, at just 162 lbs on his 6’ 2” frame he should be wearing #1.

But Taj Harris could just as well be The Taj Mahal unless there is a Syracuse QB to get him the ball. With DeVito done, the Orange QB’s are true Freshman, Jacobian Morgan (#15) and Redshirt Senior, Rex Culpepper (#17). An event occurred at the end of last week’s loss to North Carolina State that epitomizes the Orange season.

Trailing the Wolfpack by seven points late in the 4th quarter and at the Wofpack 18-yard line, the Orange QB apparently got confused when perhaps trying to emulate the “Fake Spike/TD Pass” play performed successfully by Dan Marino and Ben Roethlisberger in the NFL. With just a second on the clock he got under center, took the snap and did a “Fake Pass/Spike” play. Oops! Really big time Oops! It was 4th down!

The last time Notre Dame and Syracuse played against each other was in 2018 at Yankee Stadium. The Irish were ranked #3 and the Orange were ranked #12. The Irish won 36-3. Ian Book returned to the lineup after missing the Florida State game due to a rib injury suffered against the Northwestern Wildcats.

As you will hereinafter read, and contrary to my earlier “tease”, I do not predict the Over/Under will be Overed! The insertion of ND depth charges will limit the scoring, but I do expect to see several plays designed for Braden Lenzy. #0 will be needed in the ACC Championship game, so let’s let him loose after his recovery from his ‘hammie’.

And also keep your eyes open for #15 Jordan Johnson. Pay particular attention, if possible, to see how he might be blocking on plays. That is an essential skill for the Irish wide receiving corps.

And, one more thing before I give my prediction. Every game a different player has stepped up on the defense. Against North Carolina it was Marist Liufau. Who will it be against the Orange? My pick to click with extensive playing time is Rylie Mills.

In last week’s report I commented that “while the walls are slowly coming down, the Irish remain somewhat like Rodney Dangerfield. They don’t get no respect”.

Perhaps the North Carolina game turned the tide, as Kirk Herbstreit commented that Notre Dame may be the most complete team in the country. Forget about “turning the tide”, I say “Bring on the Tide”!!

As the Syracuse game proceeds, you can expect the Orange to be crushed.

Final score: IRISH – 45

Syracuse -- 3

Your Irish Trivia for today.

1. In 2018 the Irish defeated Florida State with Ian Book on the bench due to a rib injury suffered the previous week against the Northwestern Wildcats. Who played QB for the Irish in that big Irish win?

2. Same game. Notre Dame scored in five different ways in that game. Can you name all five?

And as always, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


“. . . . . . and our hearts forever,

Love thee Notre Dame!”

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