No. 3 Notre Dame makes playoff statement with blowout of No. 12 Syracuse

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One win is all that separates No. 3 Notre Dame (11-0) from a perfect regular season after a complete domination of No. 12 Syracuse (8-3) on Saturday in Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame’s 36-3 victory over the Orange was highlighted by strong defense and the return of quarterback Ian Book to the offense.

Syracuse’s chances to upset the Irish faded early in the game when starting quarterback Eric Dungey left the game with an injury. His loss took a lot out of the Orange offense, which was already going to be in a tough spot against the Notre Dame defense. With Tommy DeVito taking over at quarterback off the bench, Syracuse quarterbacks combined for three interceptions and DeVito struggled with accuracy all game long. Syracuse also failed to get much going on the ground with Moe Neal, who picked up 74 yards on 18 carries.

Book passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns after sitting out last week against Florida State. The Irish ran the ball well too, with 171 team yards and a pair of touchdowns in the blowout.

Notre Dame will head to the west coast to take on USC next weekend to wrap up their regular season. A win would move Notre Dame to 12-0 and force them to await the selections from the College Football Playoff selection committee. At 12-0, Notre Dame would almost certainly be one of the four teams in the playoff at the end of the season, but seeding will still be unknown until a few more weeks are played.

Syracuse will hop back into ACC play for their regular season finale at Boston College next week. Second place in the ACC Atlantic Division will be on the line as both teams will finish behind Clemson in the division. Syracuse may have seen a chance to play in a New Years Six bowl dashed with the loss, however.

Syracuse QB Eric Dungey leaves game with injury as Notre Dame is pitching shutout in Yankee Stadium

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If Syracuse was going to pull an upset in the Bronx against Notre Dame, they likely needed quarterback Eric Dungey to play a key role. That is no longer in the picture after Dungey left the game with an injury early in the first half. Notre Dame, with Ian Book back at quarterback for the Irish, have shown no signs of a struggle so far, owning a 20-0 lead at halftime.

Dungey left the game on a non-contact injury as the Orange were lining up at the line of scrimmage to run a play. Tommy DeVito has taken over at quarterback for Syracuse as a result, and finding success in the passing game has not yet been possible. DeVito completed just four of 14 pass attempts for 25 yards with two interceptions as the Syracuse offense has lost a bit of the versatility Dungey brings to the table.

Book has been having a terrific outing back on the field. Aside from an interception in the end zone in the first half, Book has completed 18 of 29 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown. Justin Yoon has kicked a couple field goals and Jafar Armstrong has seemingly put this game well out of reach for Syracuse already with a nine-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Notre Dame’s defense appears to have this game on lockdown, which will move the Irish one giant step closer to their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.

West Virginia’s Will Grier and Michigan’s Shea Patterson among Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalists

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College football’s award season is drawing near. The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award is in the spirit of the season with the announcement of 10 finalists for their award this season, honoring the top fourth-year quarterback in college football using a number of conditions including character, scholastic achievement and leadership qualities in addition to on-field success. And because the award is designed for seniors and fourth-year juniors scheduled to graduate with their class, you won’t find Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa on this list.

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and Michigan’s Shea Patterson are among the list of candidates up for the award as finalists this season, it was announced on Thursday. Both players have certainly played a key role in guiding their respective teams into position to play for and win their respective conference titles with the final weeks of the season underway. UCF’s McKenzie Milton is in a similar position and was named a finalist for the award as well.

Joining those three are a pair of ACC quarterbacks with Syracuse’s Eric Dungey and NC State’s Ryan Finley. Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Washington State’s Gardner Minshew are representing the Pac-12 and Penn State’s Trace McSorley joins Patterson as the Big Ten representatives on the list of finalists for the award. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is the lone SEC player named as a finalist and Boise State’s Brett Rypien is standing tall for the Mountain West Conference.

Past Golden Arm Award winners include Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Boston College’s Matt Ryan and Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn. Rudolph was last year’s recipient of the award.

No. 3 Clemson loses Lawrence but avoids upset with fourth-quarter rally vs. Syracuse

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Some games just don’t go according to the script. No. 3 Clemson (5-0, 2-0 ACC) had to dig deep and rally in the fourth quarter at home after being down by 10 to avoid being upset at home by Syracuse (4-1, 1-1 ACC), and they did it despite losing starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the first half. Clemson scored a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of the game with Travis Etienne scoring his third touchdown of the game for a wild 27-23 victory.

Lawrence, in the same week he was named the team’s starting quarterback, was knocked out of the game for good in the second quarter when he took a blow to the head while running with the football. After an examination in the medical tent on the sidelines, Lawrence had his helmet taken away and he left the field to the locker room for more examination shortly before halftime. As the second half opened, it was reported he was done for the day. Chase Brice, another freshman, took over on offense, but the Tigers went to rely on the defense and the running game for the bulk of the second half.

Syracuse took a 10-point lead shortly after a muffed punt return by Clemson’s Amari Rodgers gave the Orange a 1st-and-Goal with a fourth down push up the middle with quarterback Eric Dungey handling the football early in the fourth quarter. Clemson running back Travis Etienne led the charge for a quick response though, cutting the lead back down to just three points on a quick six-play drive that took under fewer than two minutes to execute.

As the Syracuse defense was growing tired, Etienne became the difference-maker on his way to over 200 rushing yards. Etienne finished with 203 yards to go with his three touchdowns. Clemson needed it, as Syracuse played well defensively for much of the game until wearing down against a deeper team loaded with more talent.

Brice took a while to get comfortable, but came through with flying colors on Clemson’s late touchdown drive, completing a key pass on fourth down and picking up more yards on the ground on the very next play to get Clemson on the doorstep of a touchdown.

Next up for Clemson is a road trip to Wake Forest. The Tigers will wait to see what the status of Lawrence is, but Clemson will look to extend their winning streak against Wake Forest to 10 next Saturday regardless of who the quarterback is. Clemson has won 25 straight meetings against Wake Forest when the Tigers are ranked. The last loss to Wake Forest by a ranked Clemson team was in 1945, when No. 18 Clemson lost 13-6.

Syracuse will also be on the road next week. The Orange travel to Pittsburgh next weekend for another ACC matchup, this one a cross-division showdown between old Big East foes. Syracuse won last year’s meeting, 27-24, but the last time the game was played in Pittsburgh turned into an epic shootout. Syracuse lost their 2016 meeting at Pitt by a score of 76-61.

Trevor Lawrence knocked out of game vs. Syracuse, Orange lead at half

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Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence started for Clemson at home today against Syracuse, but whether he finishes it remains in some question. Lawrence was knocked out of the game, at least temporarily, by Syracuse when he took off running down the sideline, sending him to the medical tent to be evaluated.  Meanwhile, Syracuse is looking to upset the Tigers for a second consecutive season. Syracuse leads Clemson in Death Valley, 16-7 at the half.

According to the sideline reporting from Holly Rowe of ESPN, medical trainers took Lawrence’s helmet away from him and escorted him to the locker room late in the first half.

This injury news, of course, is magnified by this week’s earlier developments. Kelly Bryant, who was knocked out of Syracuse’s only regular-season loss a year ago by Syracuse, announced his decision to leave the Tigers and transfer after Lawrence had been named the starter for Clemson.

Syracuse took a 6-0 lead on Clemson in the first half by scoring field goals on each of their first two possessions. A lost fumble by Lawrence set Syracuse up for the second field goal after the Tigers defense stood firm in a tough spot. Eric Dungey has completed 16 of 23 pass attempts for 173 yards to do just enough to help Syracuse scratch together some hard-earned points.

Lawrence completed 10 of 15 passes for 93 yards before leaving the game. We’ll see if he can return in the second half or not. Freshman Chase Brice is taking over on offense in place of the injured Lawrence.