No. 16 Syracuse hosts Notre Dame; important game for both

Notre Dame (4-3) at No. 16 Syracuse (6-1), Saturday, noon ET (ABC).

Line: Syracuse by 2 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Notre Dame leads 7-3.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Syracuse is coming off its first loss of the season, a 27-21 setback at No. 5 Clemson, and the Orange cannot let that disappointment spoil what has been a special season so far. Notre Dame was ranked in the preseason then promptly lost its first two games. The Irish have since won four of five and are beginning a two-game stretch against ranked opponents — they host No. 5 Clemson in a week — that could make or break their season.

KEY MATCHUP

Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne against the Syracuse defense. Pyne, who has made five straight starts, is 93-of-146 passing for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns with three interceptions. He has led the Irish to road victories over North Carolina and BYU. The Orange are tied for sixth nationally in scoring defense, allowing 15.14 points per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Notre Dame: Tight end Michael Mayer has 44 catches for 526 yards — an average of 12 yards per catch — and six touchdowns, half of Pyne’s scoring tosses. He’s also a threat to run.

Syracuse: Running back Sean Tucker was underused in the loss at Clemson, getting just four touches in the second half. Orange coach Dino Babers says that won’t happen again. Tucker is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and 99.7 per game. Against Clemson, he had a season-low five carries for 54 yards, and he averages over 18 carries a game.

FACTS & FIGURES

Syracuse has scored on 28 of 30 opportunities in the red zone. … Notre Dame is 169-65-3 (.719) all-time against the ACC. … Tucker has 2,820 yards rushing in his career and needs 50 more to move past James Mungro into fifth place on the school list. …Notre Dame has been whistled for just 30 penalties this season, sixth fewest in the country, while the Orange have drawn 67 flags, 127th nationally.

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