Notre Dame players line up at the end zone to greet fans and cheer with them after an NCAA college football game against Syracuse on Saturday. (Associated Press)
After a big win Saturday in the Big Apple, Notre Dame's football team has a chance next week to lock up a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Notre Dame hammered No. 12 Syracuse 36-3 at Yankee Stadium, putting the Fighting Irish a step away from the playoff — with the struggling Trojans of USC next on their schedule, in Los Angeles.
Dungeys departure, DeVitos disappointment and more from Syracuses loss to Notre Dame
"I don't know that if we win our last game that we're going to the playoffs, but that's not in our control," Irish coach Brian Kelly said. "What we can control is how we prepare. If we do a good job there and win our game then we would have won all our games and we'll let people decide who should go to the playoffs."
Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool is congratulated after scoring a touchdown during an NCAA college football game against Syracuse. (Associated Press)
Donning pinstripe uniforms in tribute to its Bronx hosts, baseball's New York Yankees, the No. 3 Irish remained unbeaten as they took an early lead and never looked back in front of a crowd of 48,104 on a 45-degree day.
How good was Notre Dame’s defense? The Irish held Syracuse to a season-low 234 yards and got one interception off starting quarterback Eric Dungey, who left with an injury, and two off replacement Tommy DeVito.
Video: Syracuse vs. Notre Dame | EXTENDED HIGHLIGHTS | 11/17/18 | NBC Sports
The Irish haven’t notched a win at USC since 2012, when the victory propelled them to the BCS championship game. That year, Alabama dismantled the Irish 42-12 to clinch the championship.
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Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Syracuse Orange: Highlights And Post Game
"If they play the way they played us," Syracuse coach Dino Babers said of the Irish, "they will probably have an opportunity to play for a national championship."
Share Share Everyone hated Notre Dames awful Yankees uniforms, maybe even more than expected tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports Back in August, Notre Dame showed the world the uniforms it would wear for this Saturdays game against Syracuse. The games at Yankee Stadium, so the Irish figured theyd dress like the baseball team, haters (all of them) be damned:
Irish quarterback Ian Book returned after missing last week’s game with a rib injury. He took over the starting position four weeks into the season.
Overall, Im not in love with the idea of going all in with the Yankees motif. It lends itself to way too many parallels between the Irish and the Evil Empire. I also dont really get why Notre Dame would want to align itself with one of the most polarizing sports franchises, BUT like Notre Dame, you either love or you hate the Yankees.
Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book throws a pass during an NCAA college football game against Syracuse. (Associated Press)
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"The ribs feel good," Book said. "Wasn't even thinking about them during the game."
Saturday’s affair in New York drew Irish fans from nearby – comprising a fanbase of blue-collar Catholics who’ve never set foot on the school’s Indiana campus.
"We don't take for granted when Notre Dame comes to New York to play,” said Joe Delaney, a New Jersey resident who grew up listening to Notre Dame games on the radio with his father. “We're out there to support the team 110 percent.”
Indeed: If youre one of the many members of the global population who does not like Notre Dame or the Yankees, you dont like these. Well, lets see how folks are responding:
The Irish are 17-6-3 all-time in games played either in the original Yankee Stadium or its replacement, which opened in 2009.
FILE – In this Nov. 9, 1946, file photo, Notre Dames Emil Sitko grabs a pass intended for Armys Bill West, center right, during the fourth quarter of a college football game at Yankee Stadium in New York. (Associated Press)
Syracuse football QB Eric Dungey leaves Notre Dame game due to injury
New York is considered an East Coast stronghold for the Irish. The team regularly visited the area in the first half of the 20th century. Saturday’s game was part of Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series, an almost annual tradition since 2009 of paying off-site games.
"We've played in California, Chicago and New York," Book said. "I think it's awesome. I think it's great experiences for us. We might have to fly a little bit more than other teams but I don't think it hurts anyone."
Extended highlights: Notre Dame 36, Syracuse 3
Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito is sacked by the Notre Dame defense during an NCAA college football game in New York City, Nov. 17, 2018. (Associated Press)
Saturday’s win could possibly put Notre Dame in the conversation with powerhouse programs at Alabama and Clemson.
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"I've lost to both of them," Syracuse coach Dino Babers told ESPN of Clemson and Notre Dame. "I don't think it's fair to talk about them. I will tell you this, though, those — that Notre Dame is better than what people think they are."
With Poise and Pinstripes, Notre Dame Rolls Past Syracuse in the Bronx
While Syracuses defense tried its best to stop Notre Dame and held the Irish to three field goals, ND reached the end zone four times.
NEW YORK — No. 3 Notre Dame (11-0) blew out No. 12 Syracuse (8-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast), 36-3, on Saturday in Yankee Stadium.
After less than a quarter of action, Dungey completed just one pass on four attempts for 10 yards and an interception. In Dungeys absence, Tommy DeVito, who has played admirably this season, crumbled under the pressure. DeVito slung his first three passes downfield, aiming for big plays that resulted in three straight incompletions that forced Syracuse to punt.
In front of an Irish-friendly crowd, Eric Dungey and Tommy DeVito together were 15-for-35 passing for 115 yards and threw a combined three interceptions. SUs defense responded valiantly, holding the Irish to field goals in several short field situations, but with the offense unable to produce at all, the Orange got embarrassed and took a big hit to any hope of a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Late in the first quarter, between two plays, Dungey collapsed to the field, clutching at his lower back with his right hand. It was later announced that Dungey was being evaluated for an upper-body injury and was questionable to return. He didnt.
Notre Dame defense squeezes Syracuse with dominating performance
In Dungeys stead, DeVito took the reins of the offense and led it nowhere. The redshirt freshman finished 14-for-31 for 105 yards and two interceptions. (Dungey threw one on the first play of SUs second offensive series.)
DeVito struggled with accuracy, pushing deep balls too close to the sideline and underthrowing a ball to Taj Harris that was intercepted. Even when he did hit his receivers, bad things happened. Harris later bobbled a reception over the middle that was intercepted. Early in the fourth quarter, DeVito had Nykeim Johnson come open across the middle and delivered a strike to his hands. Johnson dropped it.
DeVito settled a little bit in the fourth quarter as Notre Dames pass rush relented slightly because it was already 29-0.
From the first drive to the end of his day with 8:20 remaining in the fourth quarter when Brandon Wimbush came on in relief, Ian Book did whatever he wanted to do with the football.
He surgically passed his way to a 23-for-37 day with 292 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The pick came on a 4th and goal play where Book tripped and flipped the ball blindly into the end zone, where Andre Cisco took it out of the air.
Book consistently put passes in spots only his receivers could get to, and they did. On his final touchdown pass, Book perfectly led wideout Chase Claypool into the end zone on a slant. And when he didnt immediately have an open man or the SU pass rush got home, Book extended plays with his legs long enough for a man to come open downfield.
With the loss, any hopes Syracuse had of making a New Year’s Six bowl took a major hit. Though it is still possible for SU to end up playing on New Year’s Day, its at best very unlikely.
A win over the undefeated and playoff-contending Irish would have catapulted SU into the Top 10 of the rankings and set up a potential 10-win season. Instead, the Orange endured its most thorough beat down since losing 54-0 at Clemson in 2016.
With a win at Boston College next Saturday, Syracuse still has a chance to boost itself to the Camping World Bowl — which had a representative at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. The most likely outcome, it would seem, is that Syracuse plays in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27 right back in Yankee Stadium.