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.

Brian Kelly says Ian Book will start for Notre Dame vs. Syracuse

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Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book will be back in the starting lineup this week when the Fighting Irish take on Syracuse, Notre Dane head coach Brian Kelly announced on Sunday.

Book sat out of Saturday night’s home game against Florida State, which meant the Irish turned to Week 1 starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush to get through Week 11 without putting Notre Dame’s playoff hopes in jeopardy. Book had suffered what had previously been reported as “multiple injuries to his midsection” during a game against Northwestern two weeks ago. Wimbush was intercepted twice by Florida State, but he also threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 68 yards to contribute on offense in a 42-13 win to improve the Irish to 10-0 with just two games to play.

Although Notre Dame managed to not be hurt by two interceptions thrown by Wimbush against Florida State, having Book back for a tougher matchup against Syracuse should be comforting for Kelly and the Irish. Syracuse has won four straight games with double-digit margins of victory in each of the last three.

Notre Dame and Syracuse will play their Week 12 contest in Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

No. 8 Notre Dame moves to 3-0 after avoiding upset bid by Vanderbilt

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No. 8 Notre Dame (3-0) won once again, but concerns about the offense are not about to go hiding just yet. Fortunately for Notre Dame, the defense and running game remain strengths as they managed to hold off Vanderbilt (2-1) in Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, winning 22-17.

Looking to push their lead to eight points in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame called on kicker Justin Yoon for a 32-yard field goal. After knocking down his three previous attempts for nine points, Yoon saw his fourth field goal try bounce off the bar, no good. Vanderbilt took over at their 24-yard yard line, needing a touchdown to win in the final moments.

Two plays later, Vanderbilt reached midfield with a 26-yard pass from Kyle Shurmur to Jared Pinkney. But the drive stalled soon after that with a run for no gain and two straight incomplete passes to set up a fourth down with 10 yards to go. A defensive penalty on Notre Dame allowed the drive to continue after an incomplete pass on fourth down. Three plays later, it was once again fourth down for Vandy. Shurmur connected for a big play to Kalija Lipscomb, but Lipscomb was unable to maintain possession of the football as he fell to the ground on the leaping catch.

Lipscomb had 11 catches for 89 yards in the game, but it will be what could have been the 12th that will haunt him after this one. Notre Dame managed to run off a good chunk of the clock after taking over on downs.

Brandon Wimbush was 13-of-23 for 122 yards with no touchdowns thrown, although this week he avoided throwing an interception. Ian Book got some opportunities in certain situations and cashed in on one with a touchdown pass to Nic Weishar to put the Irish up 12 in the fourth quarter. The pass came at the end of a drive with Wimbush leading the offense, but it was Book who ended it with a score and took a shot at a two-point conversion (which was no good). Book was effective in extreme moderation, and it remains to be seen if Kelly will begin giving him more opportunities. Wimbush had success running the ball, however. Wimbush rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Shurmur passed for 315 yards and a touchdown with one interception for Vanderbilt. Notre Dame running back Tony Jones Jr. led all players with 116 rushing yards.

Notre Dame will go on the road next week to play at Wake Forest. Games against Stanford at home and at Virginia Tech follow.

Vanderbilt opens their SEC schedule at home against South Carolina in SEC East action.