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Syracuse football 2022 opponent preview: Louisville Cardinals

Starting off fresh against the Redbirds

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 09 Louisville at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re drawing closer to the start of the 2022 Syracuse Orange football season. Hopefully you’ve been following along with our Get to Know Your Orange Man series where we highlight every player on the roster. Now it’s time for us to start breaking down each of SU’s 12 opponents.

Kicking things off is an in-conference foe who will come to the Dome for the season opener:

Louisville Cardinals

School: University of Louisville

Mascot: Cardinals

#BRAND Slogans: #GoCards, #LsUp

Alternate #BRAND Slogan Suggestions: #EmptyPromisePetrino or #PapaJohnIsPapaGone

Recommended Blog: Card Chronicle

Conference: ACC

History vs. Syracuse: Louisville has won seven of eight against Syracuse since joining the ACC, including a 41-3 beatdown in Week 11 that started a downward spiral to close out last season. The only SU victory in that time was in 2018, when the Orange scored 30 in the 2nd quarter alone en route to a 54-23 final. Louisville leads the all-time series 13-7. The most impressive Orange win came in 2012, when using a fake Ryan Nassib quote backfired for the then-undefeated Cardinals in the 45-26 upset. In one peculiar instance, the two teams played in the Tokyo Dome back in 1989. There was also that game in 2016... which we don’t talk about for obvious reasons.

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

Coach: Scott Satterfield, fourth season. It’s been a decent start for the former Appalachian State athlete and coach. Years after playing QB for the Mountaineers, Satterfield returned to his alma mater as a receivers coach. Following stops at Toledo and FIU, he then came back again and became an assistant coach in 2012. He was promoted to head coach the next season and remained there until being hired by Louisville. Since taking the head coaching gig, the Cardinals have gone a combined 18-19 (15-15 in ACC play), making two bowl games and winning one. His tenure began by turning around a 2-10 squad that had enough of Bobby Petrino, going 7-5 in the regular season and then winning the Music City Bowl over Mississippi State. His future isn’t as clear after a 10-14 record the last two years.

2021 Record: (6-7) (4-4)

Recapping Last Season: After a second season slump under Satterfield, the Cards rebounded in 2021. An opening weekend loss to Mississippi was followed by three straight wins. A rough stretch in the middle of the year saw Louisville lose four of five, including one score defeats to Wake Forest, Virginia, and Clemson. They snapped out of their funk with blowout wins over Syracuse and Duke, making them bowl eligible. A loss to Kentucky in the regular season finale put them at 6-6, enough to get them into the First Responder Bowl in Dallas. Air Force survived UofL’s second half rally to win that game 31-28.

The Cards averaged over 30 points a game and were only held under 20 once the entire year. No team in the ACC was better at protecting the quarterback, as the O-Line only allowed 20 sacks. Speaking of the QB, Malik Cunningham continued to prove himself as a dual threat option, rushing for over 1,000 yards, passing for nearly 3,000, and scoring 39 total TDs. All of that combined with only six picks gave Cunningham the 7th-best QBR in the nation. Jalen Mitchell became the lead RB with 722 rushing yards and 5 TDS. TE Marshall Ford was the primary receiving target with 49 catches for 550 yards.

On the other side of the ball, Kei’trel Clark led the way by breaking up nine passes and picking off three more in just nine games. That stood for most passes defended in the conference. Meanwhile, linebacker Yasir Abdullah wreaked havoc with ten sacks and a forced fumble, and C.J. Avery racked up 97 tackles and a fumble recovery. The whole defense combined for 31 sacks and 15 turnovers. Still, the unit allowed 27 points per game, so there remains room for improvement. Louisville’s special teams were noticeable bad, with James Turner making only 14 of 22 field goal attempts.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Duke Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Season Outlook:

Louisville is in a position similar to Syracuse: there are a lot of toss-ups on their calendar, with very few “gimme” games, and most of their easy opponents are early on. After opening the season in CNY, they take on UCF in Orlando, followed by FSU at home. They’ve also got games at BC, Virginia, Clemson, and Kentucky, along with home matchups against Pitt, Wake Forest, and NC State. The Cardinals had a rough schedule last year as well but managed to win most of the 50/50 contests.

Cunningham is back for his farewell tour, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t continue to command the offense well. The young trio of Jordan Watkins, Tyler Harrell, and Ahmari Huggins-Bruce constitute his receiving corps and should continue to see near-equal volume. Ford, Mitchell, and backup running back Trevion Cooley all return as well in what should remain an explosive attack.

Clark and Avery remain as the main threats on the defense, with safety Qwynnterrio Cole gone to the pros in Las Vegas. The Redbirds retained a good chunk of their starters, as the line, linebackers, and secondary all have only one open spot to grab. Transfers Jalen Alexander (Duke), Jermayne Lole (Arizona State), and MoMo Sanogo (Ole Miss) are expected to plug those holes in the lineup.

Syracuse Game Date: Saturday, September 3

Location: Carrier JMA Dome, Syracuse, New York

Odds of Orange Victory: 30%

Very Early Outlook vs. Syracuse:

While Louisville has played sub-.500 ball the last two seasons, they’ve beaten up Syracuse on both occasions. Maybe a game in the Dome after three years in a row away from it is what the Orange need to figure things out. I don’t expect another 30+ point defeat, but the Cardinals should be favorites. They’ve had SU figured out on both sides of the ball and while an Anae offense should be less predictable, the new defensive line will be hard pressed to contain Cunningham. Expect the ‘Cuse passing game to play a large role.