Players to watch: Notre Dame vs. Syracuse

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Here’s a look at a few players to watch in Saturday’s game (2:30 p.m. EDT on NBC) between No. 2 Notre Dame (9-0, 8-0 ACC) and Syracuse (1-9, 1-8).


Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Lenzy will “just let it go” this week. So for the first time since reinjuring his hamstring against Pittsburgh on Oct. 24, Lenzy is expected to be unleashed in Notre Dame’s offense. The junior should add another dimension to the Irish attack with his elite speed. Lenzy could use a solid performance to establish himself before Notre Dame competes against tougher opponents in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 19 and beyond. He has six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown across five games.


At North Carolina last Friday, Ogundeji had arguably his best performance of the season, totaling three tackles and two sacks. The 6-foot-4, 268-pound Ogundeji looks to be playing his best football and could feast on a depleted and vulnerable Orange offensive line. Syracuse comes in nationally at No. 123 in sacks allowed per game (3.70) and No. 124 in rushing yards per game (78.3). Against UNC’s respectable offensive line, Notre Dame recorded eight sacks. The Irish also have held six straight opponents under 100 rushing yards.


The lone bright spot to Syracuse’s offense has been Harris (50 catches for 664 yards and five touchdowns). The Orange’s leading receiver is coming off perhaps the best game of his career. In last Saturday’s 36-29 loss to NC State, Harris hauled in 13 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Notre Dame has been vulnerable at field cornerback and switches between junior TaRiq Bracy and true freshman Clarence Lewis at the position. Expect Syracuse to look to exploit the wide side of the field via Harris.


Irish quarterback Ian Book has attempted 237 consecutive passes without throwing an interception, a Notre Dame record. Look for Williams and fellow Orange cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu to threaten that streak. They have been among Syracuse’s best players this season. Neither corner allowed a passing touchdown through the first eight games. Williams brings impressive playmaking abilities. In October, he intercepted Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown. Williams tallied another pick against Louisville a couple weeks ago. He ranks fourth on the team in tackles (47) and second in pass breakups (eight).

Notre Dame wide receiver Braden Lenzy could play against Boston College this week if his hamstring responds well to increased work in practice, head coach Brian Kelly said.
Syracuse wide receiver Taj Harris (3) tries to avoid a tackle from NC State defensive back Joshua Pierre-Louis (19) during the second quarter last Saturday.

Who: No. 2 Notre Dame (9-0) vs. Syracuse (1-9)

Kickoff: Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EST

Where: Notre Dame Stadium


Radio: WSBT (AM 960, FM 96.1), WNSN-FM (101.5)

Line: Notre Dame by 33 1/2