Notre Dame turns the page to No. 5 Clemson after defeating No. 16 Syracuse
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team got its second win against a ranked opponent this season on Saturday, beating No. 16 Syracuse on the road 41-24.
Things started Notre Dame’s way right from the very first snap, as All-American safety Brandon Joseph picked off the first pass thrown by Syracuse starting quarterback Garrett Shrader and took it all the way to the end zone to give the Irish an early 7-0 lead.
The defense also had four sacks on the day, while the special teams unit blocked its fifth punt of the season, giving them more for a season than they’ve had since the 1930s.
During his news conference on Monday, head coach Marcus Freeman touched on the complete game played by the Irish on Saturday.
“Going back, revisiting the game, I was really pleased at certain areas at all three phases,” Freeman said. “It wasn’t perfect, and that’s the game of football, but in all three phases you saw some really good things. And that’s what you want to be able to do and truly play complimentary football.”
Freeman said the players of the game were Joe Alt on the offensive side – though it could’ve gone to anyone on the offensive line – Brandon Joseph on the defensive side, and Clarence Lewis on special teams.
But Monday’s news conference wasn’t all about the win over Syracuse, as this Saturday may be the biggest game of the season for the Irish. No. 5 Clemson is coming to town, where the Irish haven’t played well.
They’ve played really well away from Notre Dame Stadium, holding Ohio State to its lowest point total all season, beating a ranked BYU team in Las Vegas, handing a now-ranked North Carolina team its only loss, and picking up another ranked win over Syracuse.
Can the Irish find that magic at home this weekend and pull off another rankings-altering upset?
“The message to our guys is continue to embrace who we are, embrace our identity, enhance what we’re doing, and truly try to work at the deficiencies that we’re having,” Freeman said. “We’ve got to improve. That’s the challenge every single week. That’s a beauty of a season, is that you’re constantly trying to improve. We obviously have areas that we need to improve at, and that’s a challenge to continue to enhance and improve those areas too.
“So, as we move forward into this week, we all obviously know we have a huge challenge ahead of us,” he added. “A well-respected football program and coach, a great football team coming into Notre Dame Stadium.”
Despite this being a top five against unranked matchup, Freeman doesn’t see this weekend’s game in primetime as a David versus Goliath story.
“This is a heavyweight fight, and we’ve got a dang good football team,” Freeman said. “I’ve always said it, when we do exactly what we’re supposed to do, we’re a good enough football team to win every game we play. But you know what? We have to do that because we’ve seen if we don’t execute, and we don’t do our job, we’re not going to be victorious. And you’ve seen that in some of the games we’ve played this year.
“As I said, this isn’t a David versus Goliath, this is Notre Dame versus Clemson,” Freeman continued. “Two powerhouse, two blue-blood programs that are going to go battle Saturday night here at Notre Dame Stadium.”
Clemson’s last trip to South Bend was 2020, when the Irish defeated the top-ranked Tigers 47-40 in a double overtime thriller.
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