SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SU ATHLETICS) –
Opportunity once again knocks for the No. 16 Syracuse football team, which hosts Notre Dame for the first time in 18 years on Saturday, as a chance to bounce back from a close loss at No. 5 Clemson this past week.
Syracuse will once again play in front of a national audience when it hosts Notre Dame on Saturday at noon on ABC. Saturday’s game is an “Orange Out” in the JMA Wireless Dome and all ‘Cuse fans are encouraged to wear orange to support the team.
While the Orange were unable to secure a win in Death Valley after going toe-to-toe with the Tigers for four quarters, there will be no looking back from inside the football facility this week – focus has shifted solely to Notre Dame.
“I think this team is focused,” Babers said about his team’s mentality after its first loss of the season at No. 5 Clemson. “These guys are different. The culture of this team after seven games is different than the culture that has been on any other team. They are showing it in their record and they’re showing it on how they play and they’re showing it on how they go about their work.”
The Orange and Notre Dame have played 10 times with the series dating back to 1914, but only twice in Syracuse. One of those meetings took place in Archbold Stadium in 1914. More recently, Syracuse hosted the Fighting Irish in 2003. Since that game, the last six meetings have come at neutral sites or in Notre Dame Stadium. Orange head coach Dino Babers is excited to welcome the Fighting Irish back to the Salt City.
“We have an opportunity to play Notre Dame. It’s one of those schools that you always hope, if you’re a competitor, that you get an opportunity to play,” Babers said. “Once again they are having a good season. I’ve been around for a while and I’ve played them a bunch of times – when I was an assistant coach at Purdue, assistant coach at UCLA, offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. I’ve played these guys a lot, along with all of the games we’ve had here at Syracuse. And I’ve only had the opportunity of winning one time. It’s very, very difficult to beat these guys. They are extremely well coached. They have fantastic talent. And you normally catch them in a (neutral) venue. Beating them at their place is really, really hard. I take my hats off to the teams that have done it this year.
“But for us to have an opportunity here in Syracuse to have Notre Dame come to the JMA Dome, I expect it to be, and hope it to be, a coming out party for our fans in front of the national media. This needs to be an animal party. Hopefully, the fans will come out and show them exactly what our 12th man can do. The only opportunity I had winning against these guys was at Texas A&M when they came to Texas A&M and our 12th man down there showed off like they always do down there. And we need our 12th man up here to show off. We’re going to need them. There’s no doubt that Clemson fans helped them, and we need our fans to help us.”
Syracuse fans certainly made their presence felt in ‘Cuse’s last home game when a crowd of 49,705 watched the Orange defeat then No. 15 NC State, 24-9, and Babers and the Orange are looking for Otto’s Army and the rest of Orange Nation to bring that same energy to the JMA Dome this week. With a limited ticket allotment remaining, Syracuse looks to sell out back-to-back football games in the Dome for the first time since 1980.