To say that the 9th ranked University of Louisville Cardinals are steamrolling through their football schedule is to do a disservice to steamrollers everywhere. The Cards have rediscovered their mojo and have upgraded to a bulldozer. Saturday that undefeated Louisville juggernaut travels to the Carrier Dome in New York to attempt to knock down the 4-5 Syracuse Orange in another Big East conference battle that kicks off at noon.
Predicting a win for the 9-0 Cards seems easy until you look into the numbers. Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib shows flashes of talent with 18 touchdown tosses on 2,733 yards passing. While his accuracy is in question at times, the arm strength goes down as a plus. The Cuse also ranks 20th in the country through the air with over 308 yards passes on average per game.
The Syracuse defense behind senior linebacker Siriki Diabate ranks in the top ten in tackles for a loss with almost seven and a half per game. Diabate leads the team in tackles with 58. For the Cards to get a ground game going, they have to find a way to neutralize him. Short passes will also be a problem if they can’t stop him.
On the other hand, Louisville starts one of the greatest equalizers in the country in sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Coming off a 5 touchdown pass performance at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium against Temple, Bridgewater rolls into the game with supreme confidence. He’s 5th in the country in passer rating with a 170.0. And when he and his receivers are one the same page, Cardinal magic happens.
More bad news for the Orange: Louisville rediscovered it’s running game. With 3 games left, it’s realistic that both junior running backs Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright could go over 1000 yards for the season.
Meanwhile the Cardinal defense has some work to do. They allowed 255 yards on the ground last week against Temple. They know that has to get better because Syracuse leads the Big East in total yards per game with 468.3.
Then there’s the special teams. The one that allowed an opening kickoff touchdown last weekend. At home. Work to be done indeed.
A hidden factor in all this is the Carrier Dome. It’s been a good long while since the Cards have played warm and dry. Bad news for the Orange because if Louisville can protect Bridgewater, he can pick apart any secondary in the country. A 34-14 final score should have Louisville sitting on a 10-0 record and wondering if a BCS championship bid is possible.
Just kidding. The BCS hates Louisville. The victory will stand, however.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton