The worst of Notre Dame's regular-season schedule is behind them. As long as the Fighting Irish don't fall apart against their last two opponents, they should be able to sleepwalk to a conference title game against Clemson.
This week, Syracuse looks to upset the #2 team in the country. However, this is the same team that struggled all year and just lost to NC State. The entire team has been a total disaster most of the season and it doesn't look like things will get better. Here are three players to watch on the Syracuse offense:
#80 TAJ HARRIS, WIDE RECEIVER
2020 stats: 50 catches, 664 yards, 5 TDs
Harris is the top receiver for Syracuse and has been one of their few bright spots. The junior is the team leader in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns.
Harris was the 830th overall rated recruit in the 2018 class according to 247Sports and the #21 player out of New Jersey. While that won't impress most fans, that is where Syracuse has found most of its success, flipping smaller name recruits and developing them over their four or five-year career.
Harris is coming off a huge game against NC State where he finished with 13 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown.
Overall, Harris is an inconsistent receiver from a production standpoint, but it isn't totally his fault. The quarterback play has been nothing short of terrible for Syracuse and Harris has obviously been impacted. While he is the favorite target, most of the ACC has been able to hold him in check. It should be no different for Notre Dame on Saturday.
#4 NYKEIM JOHNSON, WIDE RECEIVER
2020 Stats: 18 catches, 310 yards, 4 TDs; 7 carries, 80 yards
Johnson is the playmaker that Notre Dame needs to keep an eye on. While he doesn't grind a team down over the length of the game, he does possess the ability to break off a huge play.
Johnson only had one catch against Clemson, but that reception went 83 yards for a touchdown. He also added two rushing attempts against Clemson for another 59 yards. This also wasn't an anomaly, Johnson had a reception for a 60-yard touchdown last week as well.
Johnson may be small in stature and he is incredibly limited with touches; however, he is the key to a Notre Dame upset. Syracuse doesn't have the talent to line up and just beat Notre Dame. They need big plays on both sides of the ball and Notre Dame to have multiple turnovers. If the defense can force multiple turnovers, Johnson could be the key to a Syracuse pulling off the unthinkable.
#34 SEAN TUCKER, RUNNING BACK
2020 Stats: 114 carries, 525 yards, 3 TDs; 6 catches, 67 yards
Tucker is only a freshman and was the #867 overall player in the 2020 class. Despite his youth, Tucker is leading the Orange in rushing attempts, rush yards and rushing touchdowns.
Tucker is coming off the worst game of his brief career against NC State. He finished with a mere 18 yards on 16 attempts for only 1.1 yards per carry. However, he was starting to put a streak together before last Saturday.
Tucker has received the bulk of the carries this season and was averaging 5.2 yards per carry before the collapse Saturday. Unfortunately, things won't get easier for him.
The Notre Dame defense has been lights out this season and shut down some of the best running backs in the country. While Tucker shows some promise in his young career and has a tendency to wear down a defense, finding any room Saturday against a stout front seven will be difficult at best.
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