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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 45 Syracuse 21

December 5, 2020

This game got a few drinks in early and things were a bit wacky. Being down 7-3 to a 1-9 opponent wasn’t at all expected.

Then things really let loose with a points explosion to close out the half. By the time it got to the 3rd quarter, this game was drunk with both teams trading turnovers twice. It wasn’t at all how anyone would have drawn it up, but Notre Dame still walked out with a 24-point victory.

They led by 31 before garbage time officially hit late in the 4th quarter.

They had that lead, but never truly dominated. They gave up some plays that they don’t normally give up, but the outcome never truly felt in doubt.

It was a weird game.

It was also a memorable one for several seniors, including Ian Book who will leave the program with the most wins for a quarterback. That feels right with the way he has played this season and throughout his career.

He once again created big plays with his legs and was responsible for five touchdowns on the day. He’ll go down as one of the best quarterbacks in the history of Notre Dame football. Not bad for a guy who was never supposed to be what he proved he is.

- I think we can skip over the brutal start without going into detail, but acknowledge that Notre Dame didn’t come out sharp. It’s not surprising given the circumstances.

Credit has to be given to Syracuse as well who could have easily come into this game waving the white flag at the opening kickoff. They didn’t and played hard to the final whistle.

But when we talk about the bad start, we also have to talk about this team responding to adversity. After turning the ball over on downs with Syracuse leading the game, the defense came out and did this.

One run stuff, two Havoc plays, and a three-and-out.

- I wrote earlier in the week in 6 Thoughts about the kind of season Javon McKinley is having and how it compares to Chase Claypool and Miles Boykin. The only thing missing was touchdowns.

He rectified that today. They were all equally impressive.

His fourth 100-yard receiving day now surpasses Claypool in 2019 and Boykin in 2018 (each of whom had three).

- There were some ugly angles by the Irish safeties today and that led to a way better than expected day on the ground for Syracuse.

The one thing the defense can count on is Havoc. They came through again with a 24.6% Havoc Rate and four forced fumbles.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah showed out in what should be his final game in Notre Dame Stadium. He’s now up to 16 Havoc plays on the season, which is only 3.5 down from what he did in 13 games in 2019.

- When you hustle to the football, good things happen. Just ask Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa who kept at it and forced a fumble (recovered by Marist Liufau) and then hustled to pick up a fumble forced by JOK that was set to bounce out of bounds.

- 45 points and 7.4 yards per play feels wrong considering how hot and cold the offense was today. So does 283 rushing yards.

Syracuse had been playing outstanding run defense in the month of November. They gave up only 3.06 yards per carry. They also held four of their last five opponents to under 4.0 YPC. (Boston College had 4.06) Notre Dame averaged 7.1.

- If you’re worried about how Notre Dame played in this game and what that means, I would suggest to take a step back. This was set up to be a letdown from the start given the opponent. Even with that, they still won by 24 and were up by 31.

This Syracuse defense is not like any scheme they will see the rest of the way and gave them some troubles, but still scored 45.

The big plays Notre Dame gave up on defense would be a bit more worrying if the 80-yard run didn’t happen in garbage time or if they didn’t just stymie an elite offense the week before.

- This tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Jessica Smetana sums up Notre Dame’s football program very well.

It’s been a good run for the Irish lately. I hope everyone is enjoying the ride.

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