Syracuse opponent preview: What to know about Louisville

first_imgAfter snapping its four-game losing streak by defeating Duke in dominant fashion last week, Syracuse (4-6, 1-5 Atlantic Coast) travels to Cardinal Stadium on Saturday to play Louisville (6-4, 4-3). Should the Orange take down the Cardinals and keep their bowl eligibility alive, it’ll be their first back-to-back road wins since the end of the 2012 season. Louisville enters Saturday’s game having won four of its last six games, including most recently a 34-20 win last week over North Carolina State. Here’s a look at Louisville before it kicks off with Syracuse.All-time series: Louisville leads, 10-7Gambling odds: As of Thursday evening, Louisville is a 9.5-point favorite and the over/under is 63.The last time they met: Syracuse used a second quarter in which it outscored Louisville 30-7 to blow out the Cardinals, 54-23, last year in the Carrier Dome. The Orange’s defense forced four turnovers, all coming in the second quarter alone. Their running game carried the offense, totaling 326 yards and 5 touchdowns on 5.9 yards per carry. Moe Neal led the way for SU, going for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just eight carries. Eric Dungey added two rushing scores of his own, while Jarveon Howard added 71 yards and a touchdown. It was the last home game of the season for the Orange, who finished the year undefeated in the Carrier Dome. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Louisville report: The Cardinals have been pretty consistent this year, beating teams clearly worse than them and falling to those that are either better or just as good. They’ve lost to teams like then-No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 3 Clemson as well as ACC foes Miami and Florida State, but have gotten the job done versus conference bottom-feeders Boston College and NC State. Louisville also has a pair of impressive conference wins against Virginia and Wake Forest, who are both 7-3 this season. That’d seem to imply that it will have no problem against the Orange, who are tied for last in the ACC Atlantic division. The Louisville offense, which ranks in the top 5 of the ACC in both points and yards per game, is bolstered by its strong running game, which features one of the best running back duos in the conference: Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall. Hawkins, a redshirt freshman, has tallied the third-highest rushing total in the conference this season (1,045 yards) and added six touchdowns. Backfield mate Hall, who ranks third in the country in yards per kickoff return, has complemented Hawkins to the tune of 397 yards and four scores of his own. Quarterback Micale Cunningham is a talented passer and has 14 touchdowns to show for it, but the redshirt sophomore has proven solid on the ground as well with five touchdowns scored with his legs. The Cardinals’ defense is significantly less-acclaimed, having given up an ACC-worst 44 touchdowns as well as 432.2 yards per game. Inside linebacker C.J. Avery leads Louisville in tackles this season with 68, while defensive back Khane Pass is right behind him with 66. While linebacker Monty Montgomery gives Louisville some physicality defensively and leads the team in sacks and fumbles forced, the Cardinals have been poor all season at forcing turnovers in general.   How Syracuse beats Louisville: Aside from coming out with the same mentality and attitude that it did last week against the Blue Devils, Syracuse will need to stop the Cardinals’ rushing attack on Saturday. The Cardinals are 1-3 this season in games when they rush for fewer than 200 yards and 5-1 in games when they surpass that mark. Similarly to Boston College’s gameplan a few weeks back, the Cardinals are planning to run the ball, and both teams know it.Offensively, the Orange need to jump on the Cardinals early. Louisville has one of the worst defenses that Syracuse has faced all season, and has the potential to crack fully if beaten in the opening half. The Orange have won every game they’ve scored first in this year, but have lost each time they haven’t.Stat to know: 43 — SU’s margin of victory over Duke, its largest over an FBS opponent since 2000.After failing to crack the 30-point mark for nearly two months and losing four consecutive games, the Orange finally broke out offensively against the Blue Devils. They did it largely on the ground, totaling a season-high 286 rushing yards, but opened and finished their first possession passing the ball. Part of SU’s success came from some tweaks positionally as well as having the previous week idle, a luxury the Orange don’t have this time around. Player to watch: Hawkins, running back, No. 10Syracuse has struggled with containing elite running backs all season, as evidenced by the 737 rushing yards combined it allowed versus Boston College and Florida State. The third-best running team in the ACC? Louisville. Hawkins has run for over 100 yards on five separate occasions this season and whether or not SU can slow him down will be a key factor in determining Saturday’s outcome. Comments Published on November 21, 2019 at 11:49 pm Contact Eric: | @esblack34 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img