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Final score: Louisville 56, Syracuse 34

Well, it was fun while it lasted...

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange came into Saturday’s game needing a win to keep realistic bowl hopes alive. Unfortunately, they left with a 56-34 loss against the Louisville Cardinals, despite some real chances to win both at the beginning and end.

After Louisville quickly put points on the board, Syracuse’s offense looked good on its own first drive but settled for a field goal. The defense would force a punt next, potentially giving the Orange a chance to take the lead. However, a muffed Sean Riley punt set Louisville up for the easy touchdown. The Cardinals would add another score in the first quarter to go up 21-3 after 15 minutes.

Syracuse’s defense buckled down a bit in the second, but the offense still failed to capitalize on its numerous opportunities in the Louisville part of the field. They trailed 28-10 at the break. The Cardinals then extend their lead a little further during a busy third quarter, as both teams seemingly scored at will to make it 49-27. SU made it 49-34 early in the fourth and had chances to score numerous times thereafter. However, they simply could not convert, failing on two separate fourth down attempts within field goal range. Louisville closed things with a final late touchdown to secure the final score.

For the second straight week, Syracuse’s offense was led by its run game. Moe Neal had a career-high 163 yards and a touchdown, continuing his strong play against Louisville dating back to last season. Jarveon Howard picked up 33 yards and a TD, while Jawhar Jordan had 35 and Abdul Adams manged 24 on the ground.

Tommy DeVito was 14-of-21 on the day, for 153 yards and two touchdowns. One of those went to Aaron Hackett, while the other went to favorite target Trishton Jackson. Toward the end of the game, Clayton Welch actually lined up under center for a couple series, going 3-of-4 for 96 yards, including a really nice (81-yard) run-after-catch from the speedster Jordan.

Mostly based on that reception, Jordan was the leading receiver for Syracuse, with two receptions for 87 yards. Jackson had three catches for 64 yards and the aforementioned score. Taj Harris caught six balls for 58 yards, and Hackett had two for 23 (plus the TD).

The defense featured very few highlights as Louisville’s running backs did whatever they wanted in this one, to the tune of 370 rushing yards. Micale Cunningham also tormented the Orange defense with six total touchdowns on the day, very much looking the part of Lamar Jackson to SU’s struggling linebackers. Andre Cisco had a pick that could’ve wound up an important fourth quarter score. Alas, no dice as the Orange offense sputtered.

So that’s it, pretty much. Unless a lot of nonsense happens next week AND Syracuse wins, the Orange are staying home for bowl season for the fifth time in six years. We’ll have more on this, but for now, it’s mostly just a bummer.