Despite being down 33-27 at halftime, this is probably what the Syracuse Orange signed up for when they hired Dino Babers. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 1-3, yet more talented than SU. Yet, the difference is just six points and the Orange get the ball to start the third quarter.
Crazier still, the teams could easily be tied right now. Syracuse’s Cole Murphy missed a field goal as the clock hit zeros. Notre Dame also blocked an extra point on the Orange’s first touchdown and returned it for two points. Without those negative outcomes, the score’s 31-all.
One of the prevailing storylines heading into this game was the lack of defense on either sideline. Both squads would live up to that immediately, allowing 437 total yards in the first quarter and 36 combined points (ND led 23-13). The Orange secondary has been as rough as expected, allowing 356 passing yards and two touchdowns to DeShone Kizer on just 14 completions. His last pass of the half, however, was picked off by Zaire Franklin, eventually setting up the late field goal attempt from Murphy.
Syracuse, once again, started hot on offense in this one. Eric Dungey led two touchdown drives to start things off. The first, a quick scamper across the goal line after a strong drive down the field. His second, a 72-yard touchdown pass to (who else?) Amba Etta-Tawo. Dungey’s 18-for-28 for 265 yards and two scores. He’s also run for another two touchdowns.
The Orange have never led in this one, but have spent quite a bit of time threatening. Though the defense has certainly made it tough for Syracuse to keep up, allowing multiple plays of over 60 yards to ND, the Orange offense has also stalled out for extended periods of time. Notre Dame has also let the Orange hit them with some big plays (the Etta-Tawo score, a long punt return from Brisly Estime) to even things out a bit.
Both teams have been pretty bad on third down, just 2-for-13 combined. SU’s defense’s only saving grace is that it has used its biggest weakness (coverage) against opponents in the red zone where receivers can’t spread them out anymore given short field. For the second straight game, the Orange made a goal line stop. They also turned a drive inside the 10-yard line into a field goal for Notre Dame.
Fun second half ahead, we’re certain. Syracuse could take the lead with a touchdown on the initial drive in the third quarter.
Hope you packed a meal. This one’s going to last another four hours.