The pads are on at Syracuse Orange training camp as they prepare for the 2022 football season. We’re also preparing by continuing to go over each of SU’s fall opponents. After traveling to Clemson, the Orange return home to face another extremely challenging foe. This time, it will be the most recognizable of the independent teams making their way inside the Dome.
School: University of Notre Dame
Mascot: Fighting Irish
#BRAND Slogans: #GoIrish and “God. Country. Notre Dame.”
Alternate #BRAND Slogan Suggestions: #TheLastIndyDynasty or “The Skill of the Irish”
Recommended Blog: One Foot Down
History vs. Syracuse: The Fighting Irish are 7-3 against the Orange in a series that has seen more games played at neutral sites than at either squad’s normal home. SU’s wins include crushing Notre Dame 38-12 in the 2003 season finale and the last win in the forgettable Greg Robinson era - a major 24-23 upset in South Bend thanks to walk-on QB Cameron Dantley’s last minute TD pass. The Irish have rattled off four straight wins in pretty convincing fashion since, but they haven’t been back to the Dome since the ‘03 loss.
Coach: Marcus Freeman, first season. Freeman took over as head coach of the Fighting Irish after Brian Kelly abruptly resigned to take over at LSU. Marcus was a linebacker at Ohio State and was selected in the 5th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He spent time on several practice squads before retiring. Freeman returned to the Buckeyes as a grad assistant before landing positions at Kent State and Purdue. In 2017, Cincinatti offered him their defensive coordinator position and he accepted, shaping the G5 school into a well-disciplined contender on the national level. Notre Dame liked what they saw and recruited him as their own DC ahead of last season. After the unit performed well, Freeman earned his unexpected promotion prior to their bowl game.
2021 Record: (11-2)
Recapping Last Season:
So close, yet so far. That was the story of the 2021 Fighting Irish football team. They won almost every game of the regular season - but the only one they didn’t ended up costing them. After late scares at FSU and against Toledo (yes, you read that right; no, I have no idea how it was a game to begin with), the Irish won another pair of games to start 4-0. Then came a home matchup against then No. 7 Cincinnati. The Bearcats didn’t waste their program’s chance to prove itself against a national powerhouse, prevailing 24-13. After that, the Irish won out, following up another late rally at VT with six straight weeks of offensive explosion. ND ended the year on a sour note, failing to rally late one last time and losing 37-35 to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Jack Coan’s senior sendoff was a good one - he threw for 3,150 yards, 25 TDS, and seven interceptions. His main targets were TE Michael Mayer and WR Kevin Austin Jr. Mayer led the team with 71 catches, and both had seven touchdowns and over 800 receiving yards. Kyren Williams was a 1,000-yard rusher as the bell-cow back and also tallied 17 total scores.
Notre Dame allowed the 9th-fewest points per game during the regular season. Their suffocating defensive line featured Isaiah Foskey and the twins of Justin and Jayson Ademilola feasting for 20 sacks, eight forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. LB Jack Kiser also contributed to the turnover machine with two pick-sixes and two forced fumbles. The defense had 15 total interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. Kicker Jonathan Doerer was 16/21 on FGs.
2022 Season Outlook:
The Irish are thrown straight into the grinder with a primetime showdown at Ohio State in the opening week. It’s one of four road games for Notre Dame, with the other three at North Carolina, Syracuse, and USC. They have six true home games and will face Marshall, Cal, Stanford, UNLV, Clemson, and Boston College. The two additional “home” games are at neutral sites: against BYU in Las Vegas (ironically at the home of UNLV, Allegiant Stadium) and versus Navy in Baltimore (at M&T Bank Stadium).
Things will look very different on offense, with Coan, Austin, and Williams all gone pro. Sophomore Tyler Buchner won the QB competition in training camp. He’ll at least have Mayer to throw to as the WR rotation is far from set. Avery Davis, the number 2 option last season before tearing an ACL, is out for the year after just tearing his other ACL. That awful break means the running game will probably be relied on early until the rest of the young offense can get in sync.
Foskey and the Ademilolas ought to continue terrorizing opposing QBs this fall. This secondary is still in excellent shape as well, with Kiser continuing to suit up beside ballhawks: CBs Cam Hart and Clarence Lewis, and S D.J. Brown. This is one of the most experienced groups in all of college football, so the last thing anyone should do is take them lightly.
Syracuse Game Date: Saturday, October 29
Location: JMA Wireless Dome, Syracuse, New York
Odds of Orange Victory: 10%
Very Early Outlook vs. Syracuse:
This will be the biggest Dome crowd of the season. I hate to say that it won’t mean too much against a team used to playing in front of much bigger ones... and let’s face it, no matter how the tickets were sold, a good chunk of their fans will make their way to CNY for this one. A defensive guru like Freeman should be a good foil to whatever tricks Anae has up his sleeve, and unless the Irish are stuck with underwhelming QB play like Clemson was last year, this is a tall challenge for the ‘Cuse. Getting to rush the field is probably too much to ask for this year.
Prove me wrong.