Head Coach Dino Babers is in his 7th seson leading #16 Syracuse. The Orange is 6-1. Last week they suffered their first loss to #5 Clemson 27-21. In that game they took a 21-10 lead into the 4th quarter before surrendering 17 unanswered points. Syracuse’s record to this point represents the culmination of a rebuild from 1-10 two years and 5-7 last season.
Really good defense and improved offense is the hallmark of this resurgent program.
Critical to the turnaround has been the play of 6-4, 228. Garrett Schrader. A dual threat 2021 transfer from Mississippi St., Schrader is completing 70% of his passes and has thrown 13 touchdown passes against just 4 interceptions. On the ground he has also done plenty of damage with 371 yards and 6 TDs.
6-5 TE, Oronde Gadsden II is Schrader’s top target. He has 37 catches good for 593 yards and 5 TDs. Syracuse will align him all over the field and Gadsden looks to always be on Schrader’s radar. Syracuse has a star at running back in sophomore Sean Tucker Tucker has 698 yards, 6 TDs and averages 5.4 yards per carry. Tucker is also heavily involved in the passing game with 28 catches for 216 yards and 2 more TDs. Last season Tucker earned all-American honors.
Schrader has been sacked quite a bit, Syracuse is 96th in sacks given up per game at 2.57.
The Orange’s defense has been stingy at giving up points at 15.1 per game, that is the 6th best mark in the nation. They returned 8 out of 11 starters from last season to man their 3-3-5 scheme. The three newcomers are the three down linemen. Among them, edge rusher Steve Linton has played well and leads the team with 4 sacks on the year.
The linebacking corps, safeties and corners were among the best groups in the ACC last season, and they have continued playing at a high level. Linebacker Mikel Jones leads the team in tackles at 52 and has also notched 3 sacks. Cornerback Garrett Williams has 2 interceptions and 3 passes defended.
Overall this defense has been disruptive with 13 turnovers gained, and 19 sacks. They give up just 296 yards per game on average, the 16th best mark nationally.
Penalties have been an issue for the Orange, they are among the worst in the country, accumulating 72.8 yards per game.
With the blossoming of Garrett Schrader in his second year at QB and the consistent strong play by their defense, Syracuse has transformed into a top 20 team. They won their first six games by an average of 23 points and on the road fought #5 Clemson, toe to toe before succumbing in a one score game.
Interestingly, the Irish have played better on the road then at home in 2022 and they seem to play to the level of their competition. I have a sense they well play well against the Orange. That said it is hard to trust this offense after leaving so many points on the field last week and only notching 14 against Stanford.
One of these weeks the Irish are going to get some turnovers. Why not this week?
Syracuse is a 2.5-point favorite and the over/under is 47.5
The Fighting Irish Preview Pick:
ND 24 Syracuse 21