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No. 22 Syracuse Football Disintegrates in 41-24 Loss to Notre Dame

Syracuse University running back Sean Tucker bolts for a first down midway through the third quarter of the home loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, Oct. 29 from the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
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Syracuse University running back Sean Tucker bolts for a first down midway through the third quarter of the home loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, Oct. 29 from the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

A tight stranglehold on the Syracuse passing game helped Notre Dame to a 41-24 victory on Saturday from the JMA Wireless Dome.

S.U. quarterback Garrett Shrader marked his worst performance of the season in terms of passing yards, passing touchdowns, and playing time. The Mississippi State-transfer hit just five of 14 targets for a measly 35 yards, leading to his assignment to the bench for the entirety of the second half.

Adding an interception into the mix, Shrader’s completion percentage of just 35.7 tied his lowest mark in orange (5-14 on October 30, 2021 in a 21-6 win over Boston College). The South Carolina-native’s career-worst came as a freshman at Mississippi State when he completed four of 12 passes (33.3%) in a 31-24 home loss to Kansas State on September 14, 2019.

After Shrader’s trip to the bench, redshirt freshman Carlos Del Rio-Wilson stepped in as field general. Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said that he prefers to keep one man under center throughout the game, but desperate times call for desperate measures. He said, “[Shrader] just didn’t have all the tools in his toolbox; I just didn’t think it was fair to have him out there with all those archers that were trying to get him in their sights.”

Babers continued, “There’s not a quarterback controversy, you know. When Shrader is healthy, Shrader will go. I thought that Del Rio, you know, if I had to grade him without seeing the tape — I don’t like doing stuff like that — my grade would be a C.”

Del Rio-Wilson gradually worked the N.D. defense, starting with a three-and-out, moving his squad to a field goal and then finally handing the reins to running back Sean Tucker for a touchdown on his third drive.

The 6-foot-2 QB said he felt ready from the moment he knew he was being thrown into the spotlight. He said, “Once [Coach Babers] told me [that I was going in the game], I was ready to go, I just went out there and handled business.”

Despite tossing an interception, the Atlanta-native hurled the ball for 190 yards and his first collegiate passing touchdown, which came midway through the fourth quarter on a dart to D’Marcus Adams.

Switching to the Syracuse defense, an unranked Notre Dame squad with its backup quarterback under center might have sounded like Swiss cheese to the 'Cuse: a team full of holes and easy to eat up.

N.D. signal-caller Drew Pyne threw the ball very little and lived up to the low expectations, but running back Audric Estime pulled through clutch.

The New York-native scampered for 124 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns, both of which came in the fourth quarter. The Fighting Irish bulldozed their way to 255 total rushing yards.

Syracuse has only allowed two teams to reach more than 150 yards on the ground in a single game thus far in the 2022 campaign. Notre Dame accomplished that feat on Saturday, while Clemson pounded for a whopping 293 yards the week before.

N.D. running back Logan Diggs contributed with 87 yards on the ground and his first rushing touchdown of the season. The sophomore emerged as a reliable second option in the Irish offense last week with 130 rushing yards against the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

As for the Orange, star running back Sean Tucker rushed for only 65 yards. That is the fifth time this season that the All-American fell below triple digits in a single performance. By contrast, the Maryland-native recorded lines below 100 yards only six times prior to 2022.

Despite the low output, Tucker marked a step up on the school’s all-time rushing yards ladder. He passed James Mungro for fifth on the S.U. career rushing list, moving past the running back of the 1990s and 2000s’ mark of 2,869 yards. The running back of 2020s ended the day with 2,880 career yards on the ground, 54 shy of fourth-place Larry Csonka, 1,419 yards away from all-time leader Joe Morris.

Next, Syracuse sets its sights on Pittsburgh. The two meet up at Acrisure Stadium at 3:30 p.m. McClurg Team Countdown to Kickoff begins at 3:00 p.m. on WAER.