LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (1-0) At SYRACUSE ORANGE (1-0)
Game Time: 8 p.m.
Location: Carrier Dome: Syracuse, NY
Announcers: Adam Amin (play-by-play), Mack Brown (analyst) and Molly McGrath (reporter)
Favorite: Louisville by 15
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 8-6
Last Meeting: Louisville won 41-17 on Nov. 7 last season at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
Louisville Depth Chart:
The best thing that Babers has going for him is the fact that he has three years of Eric Dungey. Dungey played very well last year outside of the FSU and Louisville games and some have pointed out that as it goes for freshman seasons, Dungey's year rivaled and maybe surpassedLamar Jackson's. Dungey isn't the talent that Jackson is and didn't have the dynamic plays or games, but his numbers were solid and he gave the Orange a chance to win some games they had no business being in. Now Babers has a guy that can not only run his fast paced offense with accurate throws and touch down the field, but he has a guy that can be a true dual-threat when needed. Dungey looked great in their first game missing only one target and throwing the ball away when the play wasn't there. He didn't run the ball too well, but I think that's mostly due to him running as a scrambler and not a read option guy.
The Orange didn't run the ball very well against Colgate last week but I do think they found a good home run threat in Moe Neal. The freshman had a very nice 49-yard touchdown run where he broke a couple of tackles and outran the defense. Neal isn't listed on the two-deep but he tied for the lead in carries and led the team in yards last week, getting carries with the first team.Dontae Strickland and Jordan Fredricks are the top two backs listed but I think that Louisville will see more of Neal. He's the faster back that could actually make a big play if he gets to the second level.
Cuse's group of receivers got a nice upgrade this year when graduate transfer Amba Etta-Tawotransferred in from Maryland. Etta-Tawo immediately gave Syracuse a deep threat as well as a polished receiver who could be a consistent playmaker for the offense. He finished the game last week with 12 catches for 210 yards and a touchdown on a go route. ow that Ervin Philips has been moved to receiver full-time, Babers has his go to guy for screens and other short routes. He can use Etta-Tawo and Steve Ishmael for intermediate and deep routes. He also has speedsterBrisly Estime which is a pretty good four receiver set. Louisville has to fly to the football and gang tackle, but they also have to do better with not falling for fake screens and pump fakes. They were beaten a couple of times by Charlotte but the Orange will turn those mistakes into points.
There's not a lot to go on with Syracuse's offensive line. They are younger and lighter on the left side of the line so I expect them to show obvious tendencies to screen to the left side and run to the right. The hardest transition to spread offenses like Babers' is on the offensive line. Cuse ran some spread last year with wider splits and some read option stuff but nothing with the pace that they do now.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Eric Dungey, WR Amba Etta-Tawo, WR Steve Ishmael, WR Ervin Phillips
While the back end of the defense has some experience, the front four for the Syracuse Orangeis very young and the jury is still out on how they will play against better competition. The line made some plays last week, especially in their nickel package with the ends moving to tackle and linebackers manning the end spots. My hope is that Louisville looks to attack the middle of this defense and set the tone early. This line hasn't had a chance to show much so they probably need a test.
The linebackers for Syracuse are a pretty deep group when it comes to experience. Zaire Franklin is a returning captain and leading tackler. I'm a big fan of his game, myself. He can run pretty well, he's a sure tackler, and I like that he's a vocal leader. He's flanked by Parris Garrett and Justin Thomas. Both are undersized guys that can run, but both struggle to handle blockers and neither are as athletic as you'd like at their size. Cuse has depth with Marqez Hodge and Ted Taylor, but both are veteran backups for a reason.
Syracuse's secondary is their strength in my opinion. Antwan Cordy leads a group of guys that are experienced and productive. Cordy can play in the slot as well as both safety spots. He plays at the line of scrimmage a good amount also which is impressive for a 5-9, 175 guy. Cordy ended up with 12 tackles for loss last year and it looks like the new coaches will utilizes his versatility as well. Corey Winfield is the team's top cornerback and I think he's an underrated guy. He has great size and runs well enough to keep up with most guys. He will be needed against guys likeJamari Staples who knows how to run his routes to create separation. Juwan Dowels moved up the depth chart this week to man the opposite cornerback position so we will see how he holds up. Dowels started a few games last year so the big game factor shouldn't matter. These guys can all run well enough to contain Lamar Jackson if they decide to try that strategy. What they don't have the ability to do is to keep up with UofL's receivers if Lamar Jackson has time to sit in the pocket.
KEY PLAYERS: MLB Zaire Franklin, CB Corey Winfield, OLB Parris Bennett, FS Antwan Cordy
Excitement Level: 9.0
It's more of an "anxiety meter" week from the old days, just because Louisville is a win away from locking down one of the highest excitement level readings of all-time on Sept. 17.
Game Attire: Khaki shorts, black polo with red Cardinal bird head, dark grey U of L hat.
The team wears white on the road, I wear white at home. This is what I'm wearing at the station, and I assume I'm going to keep it on for the game, but I'm not sure. This is subject to change, but I'm like 65% sure it's happening.
Pregame Meal: Couple beers, wings from Saints
I had the wings from Saints with their Halo sauce for the first time a few weeks ago on my birthday, and my life changed a little bit. Gonna make that move again this evening.
Bold Prediction: Louisville wins by at least two touchdowns, but loses the turnover battle for a second straight week
The bold prediction was a bit mild last week and it still didn't come to fruition. I feel like this one is along those same lines. Up-tempo offenses are for cowards ... or coaches wisely attempting to bridge talent gaps. Either way, they're not great for winning turnover battles.
Cole Hikutini Touchdown Alert Level: Maximum Blue Purple (not quite as high as last week, but still extremely high)
Dude torched Syracuse last year. Don't be surprised to see some fireworks tonight.
Predicted Star of the Game: Jamari Staples
In more of a traditional game, he gets his due targets, and he takes full advantage.
Motivational Opposition Tweets:
Nothing over the top, but there's definitely some confidence here.
Already bro appreciate it ✊ https://t.co/VRQ57jSNqO— Ervin Philips (@Ambition1_) September 9, 2016
Louisville week— ✊IAM_BRIZ1✊ (@BALL_CHILL_1) September 8, 2016
he should let the refs know that https://t.co/3VrHAv8CYb— Jake Pickard (@Jspickard99) September 7, 2016
--Louisville is 8-0 in Friday night games under Bobby Petrino.
--Bobby Petrino is 5-0 in games against Syracuse with three of those wins coming at the Carrier Dome.
--Louisville's No. 13 ranking is its highest in the AP poll since the Cards were ranked No. 8 on Oct. 13, 2013. That week, they lost at home to Central Florida in a Friday night game.
--Syracuse will be holding an "Orange Out" at the Carrier Dome Friday night where fans are encouraged to wear orange. The team will also be sporting all-orange uniforms. It's also "Medical Appreciation Night."
--Bobby Petrino is 32-1 at Louisville when his team is favored by 14 points or more. That one loss came in 2005 on the road against South Florida.
--Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey was 34-for-40 passing for 355 yards and two touchdowns in the team's 33-7 win over Colgate last week. That passing total was the ninth-highest in Syracuse history.
--Louisville is 30-2 over the last four seasons when attempting at least 35 rushes in a game. The only two losses came in 2014 at Clemson, and in the 2015 season-opener against Auburn.
--Louisville is 32-3 under Petrino when winning the turnover battle.
--Syracuse returns its statistical leader in nearly every major category except punting. The Orange welcome back more than 90 percent of their production in rushing (92.6), passing (100.0), punt return yardage (100.0), kickoff return yardage (100.0), scoring (94.9), total offense (96.2), allpurpose yardage (91.7) and field goals (100.0).
--Against Colgate, Syracuse ran 81 plays in 30:26 of possession time, averaging 22.5 seconds per play. For comparison, the Orange averaged one play every 28.1 seconds in 2015.
--Louisville has won 14 consecutive games when kicking off to begin the game, and has lost eight of its last 13 when receiving the opening kickoff.
--Syracuse and Louisville have both played one game outside of the country, and it came against each other. The two teams met in the Coca-Cola Bowl at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on Dec. 2, 1989. Behind two fourth-quarter touchdown receptions from wide receiver Rob Carpenter, Syracuse defeated the Cards, 24-13.
--Syracuse is 10-2 in weekday games dating back to the 2010 season. One of those losses came two years ago when they fell to the Cards on a Friday night.
--In its first two seasons as a member of the conference, Louisville is 4-4 in ACC road games.
--Syracuse's Amba Etta-Tawo is currently the nation's leading receiver after hauling in 210 receiving yards in week one.
--Louisville held Charlotte to 0-for-13 on third down conversions last week, and has stopped its opponent on 15 consecutive 3rd down plays.
--Louisville is 15-17 all-time in conference openers, including an 8-9 record in road games. The Cards have been victorious the last two times their first league game has been on the road (2012 at Pitt, 2013 at Temple).
--Louisville is 48-29-1 in Friday night games, and is riding a three-game winning streak in Friday games.
--Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 200 games dating back to the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the third longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
--Louisville is 170-9 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 5-101 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.
--"That's a loud place, and they'll probably have a good crowd. It is loud, no matter how many people are there; playing inside, it's always loud. So we've been working hard now, this'll be our second week working hard with the noise at practice. It's a good challenge. It's something we really need." --Bobby Petrino
--"The biggest key is whoever has more points at the end of the game wins the game. We're definitely going to try to not let them score at all. That's the final goal. But I can't put an estimate on it. I'm not Houdini." --Syracuse DL Kayton Samuels
--"Alignment is key. Once you have everybody in the right spot, whatever call we have, we can make plays. As long as we have everybody in the right spot, we have a chance." --Louisville LB Stacy Thomas
--"There is tons of room for improvement. I'm happy we're back in the Dome. It was awesome playing in front of these fans. We had a lot of Orange out there so that was great to see. I'm looking forward to getting back here." --Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey
--"We've played fast paced teams before and we'll play them again. I mean, it is the way college football is and we understand that. We know as soon as we make a tackle, we need to get lined up and go play, so we will deal with it." --Todd Grantham
--"They're outstanding. Their nose tackles, their one and three techniques, their rush-ins. (Keith Kelsey) is extremely physical. I think their front seven is definitely the strength of that defense." --Syracuse head coach Dino Babers
--"I'm not concerned with the chains being set. I'm concerned with all the defensive speed they have, and offensive speed they have and really good coaching and physical players. I don't think the game is going to be decided about the one or two seconds of the chains being set or not. I'm more concerned about that top-20 ranked football team he's bringing up in here than whether the chains are set or not." --Syracuse coach Dino Babers
--"We're stressing their tempo and getting a line," said Williams following practice. "That's our thing - getting a line - because once we get in line, we are tough to stop." --Louisville DL Chris Williams
--"They're very well coached. You know, even when we go back and watch the Bowling Green film, they do a really good job of coaching what their schemes are, and their players play hard. So I've got a lot of respect for their coaching staff." --Bobby Petrino
--"I'm not even sure I've got eight touchdowns in my career. He did eight touchdowns in one game, and the way he did it, he's just an outstanding player." --Syracuse head coach Dino Babers
--"We are facing a stiffer opponent this week that had a dynamic game. Anytime you play on the road in this league, anything can happen, so we know we need to bring our game." --Todd Grantham
Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 41, Syracuse 26