Syracuse Football: Full breakdown of Orange’s blowout loss to Notre Dame

Syracuse football (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Syracuse football (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

Welp – that was disappointing for Syracuse football, as the No. 16 Orange came into this game at home against Notre Dame following a close loss to No. 5 Clemson on the road. ‘Cuse dropped a heartbreaker to the Fighting Irish (5-3).

It was a game that the Orange (6-2) easily could have won. One could say that based on the performance Syracuse football put on the field this past Saturday afternoon, they were still in Death Valley rather than in the JMA Wireless Dome.

Let’s break down Syracuse football falling to Notre Dame on the Hill, 41-24.

First Half

Syracuse football got the ball first and proceeded to come out on the first play and turn it over. Garrett Shrader threw a terrible interception that was returned for a TD by Notre Dame’s Zac Yoakam. This opened up the scoring and the Irish took the immediate 7-0 lead. Syracuse football did respond on their next drive.

‘Cuse started with great field position due to a facemask call on a Trebor Pena return and began the drive at their own 47-yard line. Syracuse football drove the ball 53 yards with an excellent mix of run and pass capped off by Shrader’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Oronde Gadsden II. This tied the game at 7. Notre Dame drove down the field on their next drive and lined up for a 39-yard field goal only for the Irish kicker, Blake Grupe, to miss. The two teams traded punts before the Irish drove down the field again.

This time, they drove 55 yards in 11 plays capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by Logan Diggs to take a 14-7 lead. Later in the half, Notre Dame was driving before Irish QB Drew Pyne threw an interception to Syracuse defensive back Ja’Had Carter. He returned the interception 34 yards to the Notre Dame 42 and the Orange were set up with great field position.

Unfortunately, ‘Cuse went four plays and out. Giving the ball back to the Irish with 1:10 left in the half. This was enough time for Notre Dame to move the ball down the field for a touchdown. Six plays, 61 yards, and 1:01 later, the Irish were in the endzone. Pyne threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Thomas and the Irish took the 21-7 lead at halftime. Shrader was 5-of-14 for 35 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

It was a very disappointing first half for Syracuse football. To put into context how bad the offense was, Syracuse picked up 53 yards on one drive in the first half. They had 73 total yards at halftime. Notre Dame had 225 yards.

Second Half

Due to an injury to Shrader, backup QB Carlos Del-Rio Wilson was ushered into action. Syracuse and Notre Dame traded punts to start the half. Del-Rio Wilson had an ugly first possession as he almost threw a pick-six. On Notre Dame’s next possession, they drove the ball 6 plays and 22 yards.

Kicker Grupe nailed a 31-yard field goal to make the score 24-7. On Syracuse’s next possession, Andre Szmyt nailed an impressive 54-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 24-10. Syracuse started to pick up some momentum after this as they forced the Irish into a three-and-out. On the following ‘Cuse possession, Del-Rio Wilson started to bring a spark to this Syracuse football offense.

Del-Rio Wilson fired a 23-yard completion to Damien Alford on 3rd and 8, and then a 30-yard completion to D’Marcus Adams on 1st down to move Syracuse down to the Notre Dame 4-yard line. Sean Tucker then capped off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run and the Orange cut the Irish lead to 24-17.

The ‘Cuse defense continued to turn up the heat on the Irish offense, forcing another 3 and out and giving the ball back to Del-Rio Wilson and the Orange. Syracuse football appeared to be moving the ball well with a couple of nice Del-Rio Wilson runs, but on the third play of the drive, he threw an unfortunate tipped ball interception to Notre Dame’s Marist Liufau.

This ended Syracuse’s momentum for the rest of the game. The Irish ran the ball down Syracuse’s throat all the way into the endzone as Audric Estime got to the second level and ran untouched into the endzone from 11 yards out to give the Irish the 31-17 lead.

Following a ‘Cuse three-and-out, Notre Dame’s Clarence Lewis blocked the punt and Jordan Botelho recovered it at the Syracuse 2. Notre Dame would score on the next play with another Estime touchdown.

This put the Irish up by three possessions with 7:47 left in the game. Syracuse football would score one more TD on a Del-Rio Wilson to D’Marcus Adams play, but unfortunately went on to lose 41-24 to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Top Performers

The Syracuse football QBs combined to complete 16-of-36 passes for 225 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Shrader was 5-for-14 for 35 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. Del-Rio Wilson finished 11-of-22 for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception himself.

The rushing attack really struggled. Tucker carried the ball 16 times for 60 yards and a touchdown. He also picked up 4 receptions for 32 yards while the rest of the team had a combined 9 carries for one yard. Yuck. To nobody’s surprise, Gadsden led the team in receiving with 4 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.

The second leading receiver was Adams who had 2 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown in the second half. Both of those receptions including the 13-yard touchdown were the first of his Syracuse football career.

For Notre Dame, it wasn’t about the passing game. Pyne was just 9-of-19 passing for 116 yards and a touchdown. All-American tight end Michael Mayer was the leading receiver with 3 receptions for 54 yards followed by Deion Colzie with 3 receptions for 44 yards. Jayden Thomas was the only Notre Dame player to record a receiving touchdown. He caught his only target for 3 yards and a touchdown.

It was about the run game for Notre Dame on Saturday. Their offensive line dominated ‘Cuse at the point of attack and pounded the rock for 246 yards as a team. Notre Dame’s two leading rushers were Estime with 20 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns and Diggs who matched Estime in carries with 20 and turned it into 85 yards and a touchdown.

My Assessment

This was a brutal game for Syracuse football. This was a game where Syracuse needed to prove they belong in the Top 25. Losing by 6 in Death Valley to No. 5 Clemson is one thing, but the ‘Cuse came out totally flat on Saturday with a big mistake right out of the gate.

This game reminded me of the Pittsburgh game that followed our Clemson loss in 2018. Syracuse went on the road to what was widely considered an average Pittsburgh team that Syracuse should beat and got totally dominated in the trenches, losing 44-37 in overtime. This is exactly what happened on Saturday. At home, no less.

Notre Dame is a much better team than their record would indicate and most likely are better than that Pittsburgh team in 2018, but they are now 5-3 with losses to Marshall and Stanford. Coming out the way we did and making mistakes on the offensive side of the ball and getting no push on either line of scrimmage. It was truly disappointing.

‘Cuse wide receivers also dropped passes left and right. Especially on crucial downs. Play-calling was also brutal. At one point, Syracuse football passed the ball for two incompletions and then on 3rd and 10 opted to run the ball. They, of course, did not convert and had to punt. Extremely frustrating.

Speaking of Pitt, that is Syracuse’s next game and they have to turn the page and try to get a win next week. Syracuse football hasn’t won a game in Pittsburgh since a 42-10 win in 2001. In order to break this trend, Syracuse needs to avoid losing three straight. Which would be an absolutely deflating revelation considering all the excitement that the 6-0 start generated. All we can do is move on to the next one.


Next. Syracuse Football: Defense gassed, injuries pile up, run game needs jolt. dark