The Notre Dame Fighting Irish got off to a very rough start against the Syracuse Orange on senior day. This Irish team that has been executing at a very high level over the last few weeks was nowhere to be found. After it was said and done though, Ian Book got his 30th win after 5 total touchdowns for the day.
Notre Dame was a victim of a slow start. There were dropped passes, missed blocks, bad tackling — but above it all — the Irish just wasn’t as physical as we have become accustomed to this year.
After taking the opening drive down the field with relative ease, Notre Dame stalled out (like a dropped TD from Javon McKinley), and Jonathan Doerer was brought out for a field goal to get the day started.
Notre Dame’s next two drives on offense consisted of 11 plays, 48 yards, and a couple of punts. Syracuse finally capitalized on the Irish haze, and Rex Culpepper found Anthony Queeley for an 18 yard TD to put Syracuse up 7-3. It was a wake up call of sorts.
With 5:36 remaining in the half, Notre Dame went to work. The Irish offense drove 72 yards on 5 plays that resulted in a 28yard TD run from Ian Book. Syracuse fumbled the ball away on the 4th play of their next drive, and the Irish took just one play to get in the endzone — a 21 yard catch and run from McKinley. Notre Dame’s defense forced a quick 3 and out and with just 38 seconds in the half, the Irish went 68 yards on 6 plays for another Javon McKinley TD — this time a 28 yarder.
The 24-7 lead at halftime felt about right, but needing 3 touchdowns in the final 3:18 of the half was still forcing an uneasy feeling throughout the fanbase.
Syracuse seemd unfazed.The Orange fumbled away the ball on their first drive of the second half, but Notre Dame fumbled it right back to the Orange after a bad snap from Josh Lugg to Ian Book. Orange running back Sean Tucker found himself in the endzone after a very fast looking 40 yard TD run — and Syracuse was only down 24-14 early in the third quarter. Tucker was really good on the day, and is the only opposing rusher to get over 100 yards on the Irish this season.
Notre Dame went right back to its bag of tricks with a couple of touchdowns to end the third. Ian Book got another rushing touchdown (17 yards) and Javon McKinley pulled down his 3rd TD of the day to go along with another 100+ yard game to put Notre Dame up 38-14 going into the 4th quarter.
Chris Tyree finally broke a really long one with a 94 yard touchdown run with 6 minutes left in the game to make it 45-14... and then Syracuse went nuts with an 80 yard TD run from Cooper Lutz to make it 45-21.
It was one of those slow, weird, and sloppy senior days for Notre Dame that they still won quite comfortably. I would caution taking too much from this performance other than our current issues at center.
Notre Dame remains perfect at 10-0, and Ian Book has more wins at quarterback than any Fighting Irish quarterback in history.
Much more on OFD soon (but probably not from the locked out Twitter account).