EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — DeShone Kizer threw for a career-best 471 yards to help Notre Dame overcome another shaky performance by its defense and special teams and beat Syracuse 50-33 Saturday.
The Irish snapped a two-game losing streak, but did not show much defensive improvement in the first game since Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly fired coordinator Brian VanGorder. The Irish (2-3) allowed more than 30 points for the fourth time this season.
The tackling on punt coverage might have been even more concerning. Syracuse’s Brisly Estime had a 74-yard return late in the first half that setup a touchdown for the Orange and left Kelly fuming on the sideline.
Kizer and the offense made it all OK. He connected on three touchdown passes — two to Equanimeous St. Brown — that covered at least 54 yards each and ran for a score. Dexter Williams reversed field on a 59-yard touchdown run that made it 47-27 midway through the third quarter.
Eric Dungey passed for 363 yards and two touchdowns and ran for three scores for Syracuse (2-3).
Syracuse: The Orange defense has already been shredded by Lamar Jackson and Louisville and now Kizer and Notre Dame. An in-season fix seems unlikely. The middle of the field always seems to be open against the Orange secondary. FYI: Clemson and Deshaun Watson play the Orange on Nov. 5.
Notre Dame: Kelly elevated Greg Hudson from analyst to coordinator and got more involved in the defense this week. Kelly pledged to play more players and make a few tweaks, and the players said they would play with a renewed passion. There is still a long way to go. The Irish secondary still struggled to stop deep passes and the front got little pressure on the quarterback. Positives: The Orange ran for only 126 yards. The Irish allowed seven second-half points and did a decent job of tackling after the catch when Syracuse used quick, short passes.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish make their first trip to North Carolina State.
Syracuse: The Orange play at Wake Forest.