The second-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-0) finish the 2020 regular season with a home matchup against the struggling Syracuse Orange (1-9).
On paper this is a pure mismatch, and the odds of an upset are astronomically low. The question is will Notre Dame dominate like it should, or will the Irish come out unfocused and play sloppy football?
The Irish Breakdown staff has broken down the game, and now it's time to make predictions.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Notre Dame 48, Syracuse 10
This game won't be as close as the final score due to Irish head coach Brian Kelly not being one to run up the score, but make no mistake, this game will not be competitive.
Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book is about to finish his career with a 15-0 record at home, and he's going to go out in impressive fashion. These are the kind of games where Book has thrived in the past, and we'll see it again in his final home game. Book is going to be efficient, he's going to make plays with his legs and he's going to hit a couple of home runs as the Irish jump out to a huge first half lead. His numbers will be highly impressive, even in limited snaps.
The Irish defense should absolutely dominate the Syracuse offense, and the 10 points I see SU scoring will be mostly on the backup defense. I expect to see Notre Dame pulling its starters on defense in the third quarter. Syracuse will not do anything on the ground, but it will hit a couple of big plays in the pass game that allow it to get a score or two on the board.
I'm actually adding a field goal to the score I have in the video. As I think through how it will play out, I can see Notre Dame adding a field goal in the fourth quarter with the back up offense.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Notre Dame 52, Syracuse 7
This is the score I am predicting for this game because this is what should happen and not necessarily what will actually happen. I hope Notre Dame comes out and just dismantles the Syracuse secondary with Ian Book. Get every receiver in the two deep involved in the first half. Put some concepts and plays on film that you haven't used all year so that Clemson has that much more to worry about during the bye week in preparation for the ACC Championship game.
I think Book will have a big game in his final game at Notre Dame Stadium and there is nothing that Brian Kelly would like more than to hand the game ball over to his prized signal caller after this one is over. I would not be shocked if the defense doesn't allow a single point in this game.
My prediction of seven points might be generous. I just feel like the Orange will get a cheap score late in the 4th quarter once this is well over and the starters are kicking back and taking in the rest of the game. This one should be over when the ball is kicked off at 2:30.
BRIAN SMITH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 49, Syracuse 3
Which players for Syracuse will even play? Opt outs and now injuries ravaged the Orange roster prior their trip to South Bend. It will not be a fun end for Syracuse, as Notre Dame's Senior Day will feature complete domination by the Irish.
Quarterback Ian Book will throw for 180 yards and two scores before giving way to the backup quarterbacks in the second half. The Irish rushing attack will be a three-headed monster of Kyren Williams, C'Bo Flemister, and Chris Tyree that will go for 225 yards and four rushing touchdowns between them. The Irish defense will also be dominant.
Just because it's senior day does not mean the Irish defense will let its guard down. Defensive end Daelin Hayes will lead the charge up front, as the Irish record four sacks and hold the Syracuse ground attack to under 70 yards. The back end of the defense will also garner a couple of interceptions, as this game will be over by halftime.
NATHAN ATKINS, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 42, Syracuse 17
Has anyone suggested to Dino Babers that he remove the cartridge, blow on it, and then try to turn the game back on? It worked for Sega; maybe it'll work for the Orange.
After going 10-3 in 2018, they've gone 6-16. This year's Syracuse team is the worst team Babers has coached. Before 2020, he never had a team score less than 25 points per game. His offenses also averaged a third-down conversion rate of 39.3%. This year, the Orange are scoring just 17.5 points and converting 25.2% of their third-down opportunities.
Syracuse will play hard, but the lack of talent and depth will take its toll on the Orange. Don't be surprised to see Irish quarterback Brendon Clark in the second half.
JP SCOTT, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Syracuse 20
Notre Dame shouldn’t have a problem winning, but I’m betting this one is closer than a lot of people think. You’ve got a coach in Dino Babers who can gameplan with the best of them, a Syracuse team with nothing to lose, and an Irish offensive line that is wounded and shuffled. Additionally, with this being the last game before the ACC Championship, look for head coach Brian Kelly to rest some players once the game is in hand. That’ll lead to some cheap, garbage-time points for the Orange.
RYAN PALMERI, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Notre Dame 56, Syracuse 3
Notre Dame could have the worst performance of the year and still win comfortably. Syracuse is one of the worst teams in college football and this should be an easy game to coast into the conference championship.
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