Updated: Dec 13, 2020
By: Phil Houk of Fighting Irish Preview
Syracuse in 2020 could not be more unlike the 2018 team. That year the Orangemen were 12th ranked, and 8-2. Like this year however, they stood in the way of an Irish quest for an undefeated season.
This year’s version of Dino Babers' team stands at 1-9. Their only victory was back in September, 37-20 over Georgia Tech. They lost a tough battle last week to a good North Carolina St. team 36-29.
The numbers don’t lie about this team’s struggles. Out of 127 teams ranked nationally, Syracuse is 126th in total offense and 102nd in total defense. They average 17.5 points per game, and giving up 31.5 points per game. The Orangemen are dead last in the nation in time of possession.
Senior QB, Rex Culpepper who had been converted to tight end two seasons ago, came off the bench at mid- season and has mostly struggled. He completes 47% of his passes, and has thrown 8 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions. He has been sacked 10 times and is in negative territory for his rush yards.
Syracuse has two weapons the Irish will need to keep track of on offense. Freshman Sean Tucker is the lead running back with 3 touchdowns, 525 yards and averages 4.6 yards per carry. 6-2 Junior Taj Harris is the lead receiver with 50 catches good for 664 yards and 5 TDs.
Syracuse has had solid special teams. Last week against North Carolina State Freshman Trebor Pena returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.
Defensively, watch for sophomore Linebacker Mikel Jones, he leads the team in tackles and has four interceptions on the year. The Orangemen have had a very hard time stopping teams on 3rd down and 4th down and are dead last in the nation in time of possession.
Syracuse gives up a lot of sacks, fumbles and interceptions.
A couple of impressions that I have of Syracuse is that they have stayed in their games pretty much for four quarters, so I don’t think Dino Babers has lost the team. Also don’t forget this will be the Orangemen's last game of the season, and they have nothing to lose, so expect the unexpected.
The Irish are a 33.5 point favorite and the over/under is 51.5
FIP pick: ND 40 Syracuse 10