Syracuse faces reeling Notre Dame; chance for a big win

Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey (2) passes during the first half against Connecticut on Saturday in East Hartford, Conn.

The Associated Press

Notre Dame's season has been ugly. 

Sitting at 1-3, the Irish are out of contention for a playoff spot or top-level bowl game. 

A loss Saturday to Syracuse?

This season could reach "Elephant Man" levels of ugly. 

And unless the Irish have somehow learned to play defense between when former defensive coordinator Brain VanGorder was fired Sunday and kickoff at 11 a.m. Saturday, they could be in danger of going to 1-4.

After Syracuse, the Irish have seven games remaining. It's reasonable to say the only game they'd be the prohibitive favorite in is against Army. 

So if the Orange pull of the "upset" against Notre Dame, the Irish may have to scratch and claw to finish the season at .500.

Check the scoreboard

If you enjoy defense you may want to find something else to do Saturday. 

The Irish defense is averaging 33.5 points per game and giving up 454 yards per game. 

Syracuse is averaging 28 points, 496.5 yards and 371.8 yards passing per game. 

Orange QB Eric Dungey has completed 117 of 179 passes on the season for 1,367 yards with 9 TDs and three picks. 

But as bad as Notre Dame's defense has been, Syracuse has been slightly worse. 

The Orange are giving up 34.5 points per game. 

The over/under for Saturday's game is 73. Tempting.

The Dino effect

Syracuse is under the control of first-year head coach Dino Babers. 

Babers is with his third team in just five years as a head coach. He spent two years at Eastern Illinois before getting the job at Bowling Green. 

In two seasons at Bowling Green, Babers compiled an 18-9 record, and he is on a trajectory to land a big-time coaching job sooner than later. 

A win against Notre Dame can propel him into those discussions sooner than later. 

Sacks lacking

There are 276 players in FBS play that have two sacks or more. 

As a team, Notre Dame registered its first sack last week against Duke when Nyles Morgan finally pulled down the Blue Devils quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. 

In 2003, Justin Tuck led Notre Dame in sacks as a junior with 13.5. Tuck would go on to a storied NFL career that included two Super Bowl victories with the New York Giants. 

That's the most productive, single-season sack performance in school history. 

The question for this year's Irish squad is, will they have as many sacks after 12 games as Tuck managed by himself in a season?

If they don't, it may be the Hawaii Bowl for Notre Dame this year. Or worse, a winter in South Bend with no respite.