The Syracuse Orange and Louisville Cardinals aren’t necessarily “rivals” on the football field, even if they’ve played each other for 13 of the last 14 seasons, with a few memorable games. However, most recent contests between these two haven’t been especially close. You could also look to the results of the matchup to see how SU fared for the full season.
Going back to 2011, whether the Orange beat Louisville or not has lined up with whether or not they’ve made a bowl. Now, that doesn’t leave a lot of bowl seasons to draw from. But still... a loss to Louisville was a feature of every losing season, even if not the only reason for one.
The quick season-by-season notes:
- 2011: 27-10 loss (Syracuse went 5-7)
- 2012: 45-26 win (8-5, Pinstripe Bowl)
- 2014: 28-6 loss (3-9)
- 2015: 41-17 loss (4-8)
- 2016: 62-28 loss (4-8)
- 2017: 56-10 loss (4-8)
- 2018: 54-23 win (10-3, Camping World Bowl)
- 2019: 56-34 loss (5-7)
Interestingly, you could even argue that Syracuse’s proximity to Louisville in these games directly lined up with how close the Orange were to bowling, too — with the closest losses coming in 2011 and 2019, which were both 5-7 seasons. Last year’s matchup also wasn’t necessarily as lopsided as the score appears. The two teams pretty much traded blows throughout the second half.
With the results of this season largely decided for Syracuse at 1-7, one would think that potentially indicates a loss on Friday night. But there’s always the possibility that the Pinstripe Bowl is forced to pick New York teams given travel restrictions into and out of the state. So... perhaps SU actually DOES make a bowl this season if they beat Louisville.
As mentioned, these teams aren’t rivals. But you could see U of L’s status relative to Syracuse as a bit of a measuring stick for where the Orange stand on a season-by-season basis. Being a larger state school that’s dumped a ton into athletics for the last couple decades, the Cards do have an advantage over SU. Yet, their recruiting isn’t THAT much better than ‘Cuse. Where Louisville’s excelled more is bringing in talent at the top level (hi, Lamar Jackson), getting to bowl games with more consistency and landing impact transfers.
I wouldn’t emulate everything Louisville’s done, of course. But looking at how they’ve turned football into a consistent bowl team for two decades is at least worth taking some notes on.