Game Day: Louisville vs. Syracuse

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (3-4, 1-1) vs. SYRACUSE ORANGE (5-2, 1-1)

Game Time: Noon

Location: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium: Louisville, Ky.

Television: WHAS/Big East Network

Announcers: Mike "Mr. Cardinal" Gleason (play-by-play), John Congemi (analyst), Eamon McAnaney.

Favorite: Louisville by 3

All-Time Series: Tied at 5

Last Meeting: Louisville won 28-20 at Syracuse last year.

Statistics

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Excitement Level: 7.9

We win, irrational dreams are immediately conceived.

Game Attire: Red Louisville pullover (on top of red polo and long sleeve white Cards shirt) with brand new (kisses) red and white "Property of Louisville Athl. Dept." hat.

Same as last week. Finally witnessed my first D-1 win of the season, and this week presents a similar situation. No need to get frisky here.

Pregame Meal: Breakfast food (donuts, bagels, etc.), mimosas, bloody marys, beer.

Bold Prediction: Jeremy Wright scores two touchdowns.

Second half of the season Jeremy Wright = March Earl Clark.

Titus Teague Playing Alert Level: Electric Lime (Bad)

Predicted Star of the Game: Jeremy Wright

Kid doesn't mess around when it comes to Syracuse. Kyle Kuric on the gridiron.

NOTABLE

--Louisville doesn't lose to Syracuse in sports.

--Syracuse carries a four-game winning streak in conference road games into this afternoon's contest. The team’s last conference road loss was in the 2009 season finale at Connecticut. Last season, Syracuse was 4-0 on the road in conference play.

--Louisville is 2-2 all-time against Syracuse at home and is 2-1 all-time against the Orange at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

--The Cardinals are 4-2 against the Orange as a member of the BIG EAST, and have won two straight.

--Fresh of its dominating win over West Virginia, Syracuse made its first appearance this season in the national rankings. The Orange received 24 votes in the most recent Associated Press poll, released on Oct. 23, and 10 votes in the USA Today rankings.

--Louisville players will be wearing "AC" stickers on the backs of their helmets to honor senior cornerback Anthony Conner, who broke his neck during U of L's victory over Rutgers last Friday.

--The Cardinals are 5-6 at home under head coach Charlie Strong and have lost those six games by a total of 36 points (6.0 margin of defeat).

--The Cardinals remain strong when scoring more than 20 points in a game and allowing fewer than 20 to their opponents. Louisville recorded a big 24-17 win on the road on Sept. 17 versus Kentucky to run its record to 9-3 under head coach Charlie Strong when scoring more than 20 points in a game and 6-3 when allowing fewer than 20 points.

--Dating back to 1980, the Cardinals hold a 125-14 record when scoring 30 or more points in a game.

--Louisville is an impressive 63-23 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, but just 5-6 under Charlie Strong.

--In 1989, Syracuse defeated the Cardinals in the Coca-Cola Bowl in Tokyo, Japan, 24-13, representing the only time either team has played outside the United States.

--Syracuse safeties Phillip Thomas, Durell Eskridge, LB Oliver Vigille and Louisville WR Michaelee Harris, CB Charles Gaines, QB Teddy Bridgewater, WR Andrell Smith, CB Andrew Johnson, RB Corvin Lamb, S Jermaine Reve, DB Kenneth Jaboin, OL John Miller, OL Chris Acosta, WR Eli Rogers and DL Jermaine Brooks all call Miami, Fla. home. Eskridge, Vigille, Gaines and Miller all attended Miami Central High.

--Louisville is 3-0 when rushing for more than 150 yards and 0-4 when they fail to reach that plateau.

--Louisville ranks 93rd in the nation in rushing, averaging 120.0 per game, which would be the lowest mark since 2002 when Louisville totaled 106.7 yards a game.

--U of L's Jeremy Wright’s 108 yards last Friday was the first 100-yard game by an individual for the Cardinals this season. It was also Wright’s first 100- yard game of his career, besting his 98-yard performance versus Syracuse last year.

--Seven games into 2011, Ryan Nassib is on track to have the most prolific passing season in the history of Syracuse football. Nassib is currently 148-of-224 for 1,523 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is on pace for 254 completions, 384 attempts and 2,611 yards. All three numbers would be school records. He is on schedule to set the SU season record for passing touchdowns (26) and to finish second in completion percentage and passing yards per game.

--In four of SU’s five wins, quarterback Ryan Nassib has led the Orange on game-winning or game-tying drives in the fourth quarter or overtime.

--Louisville did something against Rutgers that they hadn’t done all season -- score a touchdown in the third quarter. Louisville has scored a total of just 12 points in the third quarter all season.

--Syracuse stepped up its rushing output in the last four games. In its first three outings, the Orange averaged 76.7 rushing yards per game and averaged 3.0 yards a carry with two rushing touchdowns. In the last four games, those numbers have jumped to 160.8 yards rushing per game, 4.2 yards and per carry and four touchdowns. The Orange rushed for a season-best 194 yards in its win against West Virginia on Oct. 21.

--The Cardinals are 1-5 under Charlie Strong when trailing after halftime and 0-7 when losing after three quarters.

--On the flip side, the Cardinals are 7-2 when leading after one, 7-4 when leading at the half and 9-4 when they have the lead after the third quarter.

--Against Rutgers, Louisville started a season-high seven true freshmen — four on defense and three on the offensive side.

--Syracuse running back Antwon Bailey has five 100-yard rushing performances in 2011, the most of any BIG EAST back this season. Bailey has a current streak of four consecutive 100-yard rushing games (Toledo, Rutgers, Tulane, West Virginia). He rushed for a season-high 125 yards versus West Virginia on Oct. 21. If Bailey rushes for 100 yards at Louisville, he will tie Curtis Brinkley’s 2008 school record for the most consecutive 100-yard rushing games in a season.

--Syracuse is tied with Utah for 15th in the country in run defense. The Orange is allowing 99.4 yards rushing per game this season. SU has kept three of its seven opponents (including both of its BIG EAST opponents) to less 100 yards on the ground this season.

--Since defensive coordinator Scott Shafer took over in 2009, the Orange defense has held its opponent to less than 100 yards rushing 12 times and SU is 9-3 in those games, including a 2-1 record this season.

--SU has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last eight games.

--The Orange is 9-2 under head coach Doug Marrone when holding its opponent to less than 300 yards of total offense, including a 1-0 record in 2011.

--Scoring touchdowns in the red zone has been a problem for the Cardinals all season, scoring just seven times in 15 tries inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

--The Cardinals are tied for 116th in the nation in red zone success this season.

--Louisville tight end Josh Chichester has caught a pass in 18 straight games after catching two passes for 19 yards in the win over Rutgers last Friday night.

--Turnovers have been a big problem for the Cardinals all season, as the Cardinals are tied for 77th in the nation in turnover margin. The Cardinals are in the middle of the pack nationally with the 11 turnovers.

--Syracuse’s margin of victory this season (9.2 ppg) is the second- narrowest among FBS teams with at least five wins. SU’s five victories have come by a total of just 46 points, including two in overtime.

Quotable

--"We are playing a football team that we have not beaten since I've been here, a team that is built or may be better suited for exposing things that we have been inconsistent with during the year. It's going to be a great challenge for us." --Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone

--“Syracuse is an outstanding team. Ryan (Nassib) does a good job of just managing the offense. Defensively, they come with a lot of pressure, similar to us.” --Charlie Strong

--(Ryan Nassib) runs that offense to perfection. He's grown up a lot since last year so we're really concerned about that. He executes extremely well." --Vance Bedford

--"Obviously, If you beat West Virginia worse than the No. 1 team in the nation did, you know we're going to have to put up some points." --Jake Smith

--"With a great performance comes great expectations. People are going to expect to see that every week. We're just not focusing on the game after next or what’s happening in the future. Everybody is focused on the game at hand. Since this coaching staff has been here, they haven’t beaten Louisville. We’re just looking to really focus on the stuff that got us beat last year." --Syracuse defensive end Mikhail Marinovich

--"We’re starting to grow, but we have to keep growing and not get complacent. As a young team, you take success and you tend to get fat and happy. Our coaches are doing a good job of keeping us grounded." --Mario Benavides

--“As coaches, we have to manage losses well, but we also have to manage success well. Our players, when we start working on this, we have to turn the page where people don’t want to. Sometimes the people that love you the most hurt you the most when they start telling you how good you are. We still have a long way to go.” --Doug Marrone

--“It’s been five years since we’ve won back-to-back conference games. That’s a long time. Now you have two at home. Let’s see if you can go play well enough at home to win the next one.” --Charlie Strong

--“It would be huge. We need every win we can get. We have five more games left and we’re approaching it as five one-game seasons. It’s vital for our program to come out and win this game.” --Jake Smith

Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 23, Syracuse 21

It would be an understatement to say it's been a rough week for all of us. This would be very, very nice.

GO CARDS.

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