Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE
Louisville is a worthy favorite in this weekend's game at the Dome, but the numbers say that this game should be a close one.
Syracuse games this season have ended 42-41, 42-29, 28-17, 17-10, 14-13, 23-15, 40-10, 37-36, and 35-24 - an average point differential of 9.2, which is greatly skewed by the 30 point shellacking of UConn.
Louisville games have ended 32-14, 35-7, 39-34, 28-21, 21-17, 45-35, 27-25, 34-31, and 45-17, an average differential of 11.67. Despite playing against the 105th ranked schedule in the nation, which has a combined record of 25-47, the Cardinals aren't exactly blowing the doors off of teams that aren't named Missouri State or Temple.
While their records and levels of success have been quite different, Syracuse and Louisville share one commonality - they play close games. I don't expect anything different to occur in the Carrier Dome on Saturday.
According to the yardage statistics on Statmilk.com (incredible website by the way), Syracuse is the second best offense and second best defense Louisville will have played to date, behind North Carolina and Pittsburgh respectively.
Vegas is also a bit disenchanted by Louisville. The Cardinals opened at -3, and against my expectation, the line has actually been bet down to -2.5. I think that a lot of people see the Cardinals undefeated record as unsustainable based on how they've played all year, and see Syracuse as a team that has played well at home this year, and has a big offense that can jump out and take over this game.
Personally, if I were a betting man, I would probably take Louisville at -2.5. However, if I've ever learned anything following sports, it is to never doubt Vegas.
I don't think Syracuse will win this game, but it is far from impossible, and like every other game this year, I expect the Orange to have a legitimate shot to steal it in the fourth quarter. Whether they do or not will likely be predicated on the normal factors- turnovers, penalties, and stupid mistakes. If the Orange can put it all together one more time and play smart football, we may be staring at a bowl berth in the face one more time.