The Syracuse Orange are 1-0 after defeating Colgate last week. Next up? The 13th- or 15th-ranked Louisville Cardinals tonight. The festivities kick off at the Carrier Dome at 8 p.m. ET for those in the Central New York area. Or for those of us that live elsewhere, ESPN2 is where you’ll be watching.
Louisville 49, Syracuse 46 (OT)
Can there be such a thing as a "Statement Loss"? I've tried to analyze this matchup in a number of different quantitative ways, but at the end of the day I am a Newhouse grad, and numbers exhaust me! Putting a big qualifier on last week's results due to the level of competition, I think both defenses will be vulnerable against either the talent level (Louisville) or scheme (Syracuse) of the opposing offense, and the game will remain a back-and-forth affair throughout.
I sense no fear in Syracuse at this early stage in the season, and I honestly expect a very loose and confident performance from a team that has a lot less to lose than Bobby Petrino's Cards, who appear curiously occupied with playing head games associated with SU's up-tempo offense. Syracuse's scheme and belief will get us close to a statement win, but the talent gap will prove too wide to gain the victory.
Louisville 37, Syracuse 27
This feels like the kind of game that could speed up the "Syracuse is back" train, but I'm not sure the timing is right. A lot of talk has focused on Lamar Jackson, but the Louisville defense is pretty stout and if the Orange can't get the running game on track, it might make it hard for the offense to keep pace. I think this prediction could change if Syracuse can get plays from the defense and/or special teams, but right now I think the Cardinals have enough talent to escape with a win.
Louisville 45, Syracuse 35
The Orange offense keeps things ticking and opens up a bit more of the playbook to hang some points on the Cards, but they're able to choke out the run game and we can't keep up without keeping them honest on the ground. Lamar Jackson is going to Lamar Jackson. We haven't really seen this defense react to broken pressure, but it seems this scheme is more stay at home and doesn't open up crazy lanes for a mobile QB to take advantage of, which might be to our advantage? Here's hoping my predictions wrong, but the young guns don't keep pace, though they look decent doing it, giving more hope moving forward.
Louisville 48, Syracuse 31
Louisville has lost a lot of defensive talent over the last few years, and I think Syracuse is going to find a way to put points on the board more often than not this season. However, the Cardinals might be the real deal this year, and Lamar Jackson could be a nightmare for SU's defense. I don't expect him to go for eight touchdowns in a half this week, but true dual threat guys have been a thorn in Syracuse's side for years now. Few fit the bill like Jackson, who has the ability to throw and run for over 200 yards on any given day (hi Texas A&M.)
I see this one being fairly close into the second half, but Louisville pulls away in the fourth for a comfortable win in the Dome. Bobby Petrino offers minimal conspiracy theories about the Syracuse offense after the game.
Louisville 35, Syracuse 21
Well, it was fun while it lasted. Syracuse may be hosting an "Orange Out" theme Friday night, but they’ll be left feeling blue after Louisville crushes Syracuse’s hopes of a potential upset with a dominating win. While I have faith in Syracuse’s offense to keep the game mildly entertaining and put up points, I simply refuse to put any money on Syracuse’s defense finding a way to stop Lamar Jackson. Yes, there is a chance they force Jackson into turning the ball over and limit any big plays from the Cardinals’ talented group of receivers – I just wouldn’t bet on it.
Louisville 49, Syracuse 27
The 22-point margin seems more negative than I think this one plays out, to be honest. Syracuse’s offense probably comes out looking pretty good, maybe even snags an early touchdown... but Louisville’s defense is very good, and they’re going to make adjustments. Those adjustments are probably enough to slow down SU’s offense, especially if the Orange run game fails to show up once again.
On the other side of the ball, Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson is going to punish the Syracuse defense as it continues to transition to the new scheme. The Orange will never look truly "out of it," despite the score. But this early in the year, I’m just not seeing an upset win yet.
Louisville 38, Syracuse 20
I think the Syracuse offense will be able to make some noise. It won't be as easy as last week, obviously, but they'll get theirs. I'm not worried about them. I AM worried about the defense. I haven't seen proof yet that we've got the capabilities to handle Lamar Jackson. To be honest, I'm not sure many schools do. He won't run wild for eight touchdowns again but he's going to make some big plays.
Ultimately, if we aren't going to win, I just want to see SU keep pace. Or at least relative pace. The Cardinals are going to score in bunches, it's just a matter of how much we can do.
Now it's your turn...