The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hit a new low on Saturday, as they lost to one of the worst teams in the nation: the Syracuse Orangemen, 24-23 at Notre Dame Stadium.
It closed out the home season, and with a crashing thud. The Irish are now, 6-5, and have one game left to end the regular season. The USC Trojans wait in the wings for it next Saturday at the LA Coliseum. (How many TDs will USC be favored by next week? 4? 5? 6?)
Charlie Weis has been under mounting pressure from alumni and fans over ND's lackluster performance this year, as most pundits figured they'd win 8 or 9 games with the fairly easy schedule they'd gotten. But the last few weeks have been a horror show:
*An overtime loss to Pittsburgh at home after blowing a huge second half lead
* A loss to Boston College where they looked totally lethargic and uninterested
* A game they barely squeezed out a win against a Navy team that seemed to care more
* And now a loss to a 2-8 Syracuse team that had just fired their coach
Syracuse seemed to play with more passion on Saturday. They totally shut down the Irish on the ground (41 yards on 28 carries). Notre Dame made many critical mistakes that cost them points. They botched the snap on a field goal try, missed two long field goals, used up all their second half timeouts before the fourth quarter, had a critical pass interference penalty on a Syracuse drive that would have been fourth down, and had a holding penalty that took away a long gain to midfield.
Notre Dame blew a 23-10 lead late in the third, and couldn't add to their lead, as a 48-yard FG by Brandon Walker came up just short. All credit to Syracuse, who had two long drives in the fourth quarter, including a TD pass to Donte Davis from Cameron Dantley with 42 seconds left to win it for the Orangemen.
How bad is Syracuse? They are ranked no higher than 100th in any major offensive or defensive team category in the nation. Ugh.
It also marked the first time Notre Dame has ever lost to any team with 8 losses in a season, and it was also the 14th loss by the Irish in the last two seasons. That is the most they have ever dropped in any two-year span in their history. Very depressing.
It was a brutal loss, and a very dispirited way to close out the home schedule for 2008. You now have to wonder about Charlie Weis' future at Notre Dame. Alumni like Bob Kuechenberg and Nick Buoniconti have been very critical of him, and the pressure on Weis will only get more intense. He is now 28-20 in his four seasons at ND, and he has an amazing seven seasons left on his deal there.
I heard a reporter recently say it might cost Notre Dame as much as $10 million to buy out Weis' deal and let him go. You have to believe they rue the day they gave Charlie The Genius that deal.