FACTS & STATS: Site: Carrier Dome (33,000) — Syracuse, New York.
Television: ESPN. Home Record: Louisville 3-0, Syracuse 1-1. Away Record:
Louisville 1-1, Syracuse 1-0. Neutral Record: Louisville 0-0, Syracuse 0-1.
Conference Record: Louisville 2-1, Syracuse 0-0. Series Record: Series is
GAME NOTES: The Syracuse Orange will finally get their ACC slate underway, as
they play host to the Louisville Cardinals on Friday evening at the Carrier
Scott Shafer’s Orange opened the 2014 campaign with a pair of victories over
Villanova (27-26 2OT) and Central Michigan (40-3), but have fallen to .500
with back-to-back setbacks to Maryland (34-20) and most recently, Notre Dame
Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals are well into their first ACC schedule, sitting at
2-1 in conference play. The team has won four of its first five games, with
the lone loss coming on the road at Virginia (23-21). Since then, Louisville
has won two straight games, topping FIU (34-3) and then doubling up on Wake
These two teams were former Big East members and played every year from
2005-2012. This series is all knotted up at 6-6, including an even 3-3 in
games played at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won the last meeting, a 45-26
decision in 2012.
The Cardinals had their lowest scoring output of the season against Wake
Forest last time out, but remain a dangerous offensive squad, that is
averaging 34.4 ppg, on just under 400 yards of total offense.
Petrino was tasked with replacing an All-American under center when Teddy
Bridgewater departed for the NFL, but sophomore Will Gardner has played well
enough in his stead, completing 56.2 percent of his passes, for 798 yards and
eight TDs, against just two interceptions.
To make matters even worse for the team’s new signal caller, is the fact that
All-American candidate DeVante Parker hasn’t seen the field yet due to injury.
The explosive wide receiver’s absence has allowed others to step up, including
wideouts Eli Rogers (22 rec, 238 yds) and James Quick (19 rec, 304 yds, 3 TDs)
and tight end Gerald Christian (15 rec, 210 yds, 2 TDs).
The ground game is fueled by tailbacks Dominique Brown (57.2 ypg) and Brandon
Radcliff (50.4 ypg), who have combined for seven of the team’s 11 rushing
The Cardinals lost some major talent on the defensive side of the ball from
last year, but seem to be coping with the losses quite well. The team is
yielding just 14.0 ppg and ranks first in the nation in rush defense (58.2
ypg), 15th in pass defense (167.0 ypg) and third in total defense (225.2 ypg).
In addition, the Cardinals have recorded 19 sacks and 13 forced turnovers.
Linebacker Keith Kelsey is tops on the team in tackles (28), with three sacks.
Defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin (23 tackles, 9.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks) is one the
nation’s best pass rushers, and safety Gerod Hollimon (15 tackles) leads the
nation in interceptions with an eye-popping six through five games.
The Orange had their chances against a mistake-prone Notre Dame squad last
week but simply could not capitalize, despite finishing the game with 429
yards of total offense.
It has been a balanced attack in the early stages of the season for Syracuse,
which averages over 200 yards both on the ground (232.5 ypg) and through the
air (218.0 ypg).
Dual-threat quarterback Terrel Hunt has had his hands in both areas, leading
the team in rushing (299 yards, 6 TDs), while completing just under 60 percent
of his passes, for 782 yards, with one TD.
Tailback Prince-Tyson Gulley (280 yds, 7.0 ypc, 1 TD) and Adonis Ameen-Moore
(208 yds, 6.3 ypc, 1 TD) add other dimensions to the Syracuse ground game.
No receiver has really stood out as the go-to-guy, with Jarrod West leading
the team with a modest 16 catches, for 236 yards.
The Orange forced five turnovers by Notre Dame and scored a touchdown on
Durell Eskridge’s 29-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.
Big plays have not been the norm for the Orange defense this season, as the
five turnovers forced against the Irish brings Syracuse’s total for the season
to just seven total takeaways.
Still there are players of note at each level. Linebacker Cameron Lynch leads
the team in tackles (33), TFL (5.5) and sacks (4.5). Eskridge (20 tackles, 1
INT, 1 FR) is a gifted safety, while defensive end Micah Robinson (16 tackles,
4.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks) gets things done up front.
The game could go either way. Hunt and company will do their best to extend
drives and keep Louisville’s offense off the field, but the Cardinals’ defense
has played well and could cause some problems for the Orange.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 24, Syracuse 20