Keep that blue and gold 18-wheeler that hauls the Notre Dame football gear around the country packed and gassed and ready to roll.

Allow the Irish to return home for a few days during the week to go to class, practice, attend meetings, watch films and then send them back out. Stay in a hotel somewhere around Bend. Hop a charter flight out of South Bend International Airport, circle the Northern Indiana countryside, then land back at SBN and convince them that they’re at another road game from here until December.

Talk to Clemson and then Boston College and lobby hard to see if it’s not too late to flip those two final home games remaining on the Notre Dame schedule and make their road contests. Go play in South Carolina. Go play in New England. If impossible, then convince the Irish that they’re the visiting team – in their home stadium.

There’s something about this team that’s way different than the one that has played four rather lackluster games at Notre Dame Stadium. This one seems to embrace everything about being away from home. The flight. The hotel. The visiting fans. The challenge.

Oh, and the wins.

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For the third time in four chances this season, Notre Dame ventured from home on a Friday and returned with a Saturday win following a 41-17 victory over No. 16 Syracuse in Central New York. In winning for the fifth time in their last six games, the Irish (5-3) never trailed.

First-year head coach Marcus Freeman can’t explain why Notre Dame is better away from home (3-1) than it has been at home (2-2). He’s been asked about it. He’s wondered about it. His players likely also don’t have an answer for what they’ve often done this season — played a game away from home, and, honestly, won a game that not many outside the Irish inner circle expected

them to win.

 

Notre Dame safety Brandon Joseph (16) returns an interception for a touchdown against Syracuse during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

 

Like Saturday. Who gave Notre Dame a chance?

Such was also the case last month when Notre Dame went to North Carolina. If there was any time, any year, any game that North Carolina finally would beat Notre Dame, that was it. Had to be it. North Carolina had cruised. The Irish were bruised. But 35 first downs, 45 points, and 576 total yards later, the Irish were winners. North Carolina hasn’t lost since.

The following week, Notre Dame beat a ranked team for the first time under Freeman when it bested then-No. 16 Brigham Young in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip. That effort — like everything else out there — didn’t stay in Vegas.

Because we watched it again Saturday. Like North Carolina, if there was any year that Syracuse would surely smack Notre Dame, something it hadn’t done in 19 years, Saturday would be it. The Orange was it. They were ranked and they were rolling, regardless of what had happened the previous week against fellow Atlantic Coast Conference colleague Clemson.

Yep, Notre Dame didn’t want to be the one that had to go into the JMA Wireless Dome (what a dumb name) and figure out a way to win. And then, win relatively easily.

“Really, really proud of our guys,” Freeman said. “That’s a big win. It was really good to see this team battle.”

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