Coming off a disheartening home loss, Syracuse plays a nationally televised prime-time game in a key recruiting area.
The Orange face No. 8 Notre Dame in a neutral-site matchup Saturday night at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, the home of the New York Giants and Jets.
It's a big game for both teams, but for Syracuse it's especially huge. The Orange (2-1) are listed as 12-point underdogs against the Irish (3-0), who are coming off a bye week.
"It's human nature to actually enjoy being the underdog," coach Scott Shafer said Tuesday. "It's a great opportunity to go play under the lights in New Jersey. It's what you want."
Last Saturday, Syracuse outgained Maryland by 220 yards (589-369), rushing for a season-high 370 while holding the Terrapins to just 89.
The Orange still lost 34-20.
Despite the impressive yardage totals, Syracuse didn't score in the second half until the final minute, long after most of the disgruntled home crowd had departed.
The Syracuse defense played well enough to win, though it did allow a 90-yard touchdown on a screen pass. The difference: an interception in the red zone that was returned 88 yards for a touchdown, a lost fumble that led to a field goal, a blocked punt that led to a touchdown, and a penalty that negated a touchdown.
"You can't win that game that way," Shafer said. "The biggest theme on both sides (of the ball) is finish. We have to finish the play better. I felt like we really couldn't be stopped. We stopped ourselves. We never finished in certain situations where we could get that momentum swing.
"Those things can't happen for us to get to the point we need to be."
Quarterback Terrel Hunt had a day he will long remember — both for the good and the bad. He rushed for a career-high 156 yards — the first Syracuse quarterback to run for 100 since Donovan McNabb against Miami in 1997. He also scored two touchdowns and was 14 of 28 for 219 yards passing.
Since missing the second half of the season opener against Villanova after getting ejected for throwing a punch at a defender, Hunt has run for five touchdowns and passed for another while gaining 245 yards rushing in the past two games. The costly turnover against Maryland came in the waning moments of the first half on a miscommunication with his receiver.
"He's doing a good job," Shafer said. "I know he was disappointed. Second half he missed a couple of throws he wished he had back."
Syracuse will not have H-back Ashton Broyld for the Notre Dame game. Broyld, who appeared to injury his right leg against Maryland, leads the team with 11 receptions and is averaging 11.4 yards per catch.
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