‘CC Analysts Give Their Predictions for Syracuse Football vs. Louisville
Our analysts give their keys and predictions as the Orange heads South to Louisville to take on Heisman Winner Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals.
How Louisville Wins: Start Fast
The Cardinals need to assert their dominance over Syracuse. Coming off three straight loses, the Orange is very vulnerable. If Louisville comes out fast, they should handle this game with ease.
How Syracuse Wins: Show up on Defense
It can’t get much worse than the second half of last week’s game. Allowing 64 points to Wake Forest in the Carrier Dome? Really? Hopefully the Orange uses that as motivation for this matchup against the Cardinals. If they don’t make any adjustments, things could get even more out of hand on Saturday.
Prediction: Louisville 42, Syracuse 28
At this point, it’s pretty clear that SU isn’t going to win a road game this season. The Cardinals are going to be too much for the Orange in Jackson’s final game at Papa John’s Stadium. If Eric Dungey doesn’t play in this one, expect the score to be even more one-sided.
How Louisville Wins: Get to the quarterback
Whether it’s Dungey or Zack Mahoney under center, the recipe for success in beating Syracuse is to disrupt the quarterback. Dino Babers’s offense is predicated on quick timing routes that set up bigger plays downfield. However, if Louisville can put consistent pressure on SU’s signal caller, then a lot of these timing routes can be taken away simply because there will be too much going on for the QB to get the pass away. This Syracuse team gives up the 10th most sacks per game and Louisville has two players with at least six sacks on the season, so that may be the way Louisville pulls out the victory on Saturday.
How Syracuse Wins: Limit Lamar Jackson’s Legs
Dino Babers said it himself this week: Lamar Jackson is “going to get his.” Babers went as far as to compare the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to Michael Jordan. Like Jordan, there isn’t a definitive way to prevent Jackson from making an impact, so if Syracuse wants any shot at winning this game, it’s going to have to at least limit his production. Jackson averages over 400 yards of total offense per game and leads the Cardinals in both passing and rushing. SU has to try to take away one of those abilities to stay in this one. The most effective way to do this is by limiting Jackson’s ability to take off out of the pocket. If Syracuse uses something along the lines of a QB spy and is able to set the edge effectively, it may just be able to keep Jackson in the pocket and force him to beat them with his arm. He’s far more effective when he can out of the pocket and create plays, so limiting his scrambling ability may be the key to a victory.
After giving up nearly 500 yards of total offense to the likes of John Wolford last week, why should we expect anything better this week against a superstar in Lamar Jackson? Jackson is the most electrifying player in the entire country and torched SU for over 600 yards last season. Now he’ll be playing at home and is likely to have an absolute field day against an SU defense that is just too beat up to stop him. On the offensive end, the quarterback situation is still very up in the air and for that reason, I just don’t see SU being able to pull out a win down in Kentucky.
How Louisville Wins: Step Up in the Secondary
Louisville has underachieved this year mainly because of its porous secondary. The Cardinals are outside the top 100 in the country in passing defense and allow roughly 255 yards per game through the air. Knowing that and SU’s customary style of offense, the Orange is going to throw as much as possible regardless of who gets the starting nod under center. Most of Louisville’s losses have come in the shootout fashion because it’s secondary has been exposed. Syracuse has the firepower to do the same and will likely need to in order to keep pace with Jackson and the Louisville offense.
How Syracuse Wins: Make Lamar Jackson Uncomfortable
Words really can’t describe just how awful the Syracuse defense was in the second half against Wake Forest. SU simply let Wake’s quarterback John Wofford do whatever he pleased. It was by far the worst defensive performance of the year for Syracuse and it looked eerily similar to what Lamar Jackson did to the Orange in the Carrier Dome last year. The only way SU is going to afford a repeat performance is if it gets to Jackson early and often. Brian Ward’s defense was only able to contain Wofford when they dialed up blitzes. I expect Syracuse to send the house on third down a lot and sell out to stop Jackson because that’s really the only way you can make the reigning Heisman trophy winner uncomfortable.
Prediction: Louisville 35, Syracuse 24
This isn’t going to be the shootout or the blowout everyone is expecting. The SU defense is going to answer the call in a way and go back to playing like it had been before last week. However, if Eric Dungey and Dontae Strickland don’t go, Syracuse still won’t find enough offense to keep pace with a more talented Louisville team on the road. This game’s going to play out like the movie we’ve been watching all season. Syracuse will keep this thing close and have a slim chance late but in the end SU will fall a couple turnovers and close plays away from making a moral victory a real victory.