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Notre Dame Hopes Yankee Stadium Doesn’t Become Orange Bowl

When the preseason polls were first published Notre Dame appeared in the second tier of the Top 20 forecast at number #11 through #16 depending upon the poll.  Most prognosticators were counting on senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush to lead the Irish to a double-digit win season.  Yet Notre Dame’s schedule certainly wasn’t going to make it easy with games against Michigan and Florida State at home and games against Virginia Tech and USC on the road.

What many didn’t predict was that Brian Kelly would make one of the most controversial coaching decisions of his career after the Irish opened 3-0.  When Kelly decided to start junior Ian Book over the more seasoned and proven Wimbush, many Irish fans were confused, and some were downright alarmed.   It was the first of Kelly’s seemingly trigger-happy personnel decisions, that have proven to be quite insightful.  A second sign that Kelly is coaching with extreme confidence happened when Kelly decided to bench highly touted offensive guard Tommy Kramer for Aaron Banks.  Kelly is making moves like a poker player that knows he has a winning hand.

Additionally, many didn’t predict the twists and turns that the Irish schedule would take as teams like Florida State and Virginia Tech would have off years.  It’s possible that no one other than the Orangemen themselves could have predicted Syracuse would rebound from a 4-8 season in 2017.  The Orange are a very respectable 8-2 heading into the Shamrock Series matchup against Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium this Saturday afternoon.

Orange head coach Dino Babers and quarterback Eric Dungey lead in one of college footballs most explosive offenses.  The Orangemen have put up 50+ points in five of their ten games and scored 146 points in the last three games while facing Louisville, Wake Forest and NC State.  This is one explosive offensive team and the question is will Notre Dame’s top rated defense be able to slow down the Syracuse offensive engine?

Coach Babers has always been offensive minded and coached running backs and quarterbacks earlier in his career at Purdue and Arizona.  This is Babers third shot at being the head coach, after spending two years at Eastern Illinois and two at Bowling Green, his lifetime record is 53-34 heading into the game against the Irish.

Notre Dame isn’t thrilled that the game is at Yankee Stadium, causing the Irish to go coast to coast when they face USC next Saturday night under the lights.  Kelly and the Irish hope to sneak out of the Bronx with a win to keep the teams hopes alive for an undefeated season and ticket to the college bowl playoffs.  They don’t want Syracuse to run wild and have the game become an Orange Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

The Irish have found New York and New Jersey to present friendly recruiting grounds.  ND QB Brandon Wimbush is from Teaneck, NJ just a few miles from the house that Ruth built and there are a handful of Cuse players from NJ, including redshirt quarterback Tommy DeVito (Don Bosco) fullback Kyle Kleinberg (Don Bosco) and Dontae Strickland (Dayton).

For those readers that enjoy watching the point spread keep in mind that the last time these two teams met the final score was ND 50 – Syracuse 33 so you might want to take a hard look at the over.

The Irish come into this game a little banged up.  Quarterback Ian Book is recovering from a rib injury that occurred early in the game against Northwestern, Wimbush seemed to have an injured right arm as he exited the Florida State game, cornerbacks Pride and Love have been nicked up and upstart running back Jafar Armstrong has been working through a nagging ankle injury.

Notre Dame will be wearing special uniforms for the game at Yankee Stadium.  The designers have somehow combined the simple elegance of the traditional Irish uniform with the well-known pinstripes of the Bronx Bombers.  The result is one of the more hideous looking uniforms of college football.  Let’s hope the new look doesn’t distract the Irish and take their attention away from a possible undefeated season and ticket to the college bowl playoffs.

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