Big East

College Football Week 10 Preview: Louisville vs. Syracuse

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Louisville Cardinals at Syracuse Orange
Date – Saturday, November 6th, 2010
Location – Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY
Time – 12:00 pm ET
TV – BIG EAST TV Network. Mike Gleason (play-by-play), John Congemi (color), Eamon McAnaney (sideline)
Radio – 840 AM WHAS. Paul Rogers (play-by-play), Stefan LeFors (analyst), Doug Ormay (sidelines)

Louisville will play their second strait BIG EAST Game of the Week at noon on Saturday against the surprising Orange of Syracuse. The ‘Cuse is the only one-loss team in the BIG EAST and stand alone in second place. The Cardinals hopes of a BCS bid are all but dead as it would take the Cards winning out and an absolute collapse by Wanny’s Panthers up in Pittsburgh. However, a second place finish and a decent bowl game is well within reach for Coach Strong and Louisville if they can find a way to win in the Carrier Dome.

As it was last week, not only will the Cardinals be facing a good team, they’ll be doing so on the road — where they’ve now lost 11 strait games. It will be harder for the Cardinal players to focus with the noise levels inside the Carrier Dome, in Louisville’s last trip to upstate New York, they lost to the winless in the BIG EAST Orange, 28-21. Syracuse leads the overall series 5-4 (Louisville took last year’s meeting at PJCS, 10-9).

Making things even more difficult for the Cardinals is a banged up offense. Louisville was averaging over 30 points a game before heading into Pittsburgh last week. They were held to three points then and now Adam Froman is battling a thigh bruise and may have to sit in favor of Justin Burke. While both Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson are banged up at running back, as is Josh Bellamy at wide receiver. With Powell and Anderson both questionable, red-shirt freshman Jeremy Wright and senior Blayne Donnell may carry the bulk of the rushing load on Saturday.

Louisville’s defense has been solid all year, holding opponents to just 318.8 yards per game and have only allowed two touchdowns in the last two games (one coming due to a short field after a Froman fumble). The offense is going to have to find a way to get things going however if the Cards are to have a chance of winning a BIG EAST road game for the first time in three years.

What Louisville will be going up against is a 6-2 Orange squad that is off to its’ best start in nine years and is coming off a 31-7 road beat-down of defending league champion Cincinnati. Both teams are similar in their makeup, as Louisville has 27 seniors on its roster — second behind only Hawaii’s 30 — and Syracuse has 26 seniors, which is tied for fourth nationally. Syracuse is also 4th in the nation in true freshman played with 15, while Louisville has played 10 itself.

Offensively Syracuse is as good as it’s been since 2003. Led by Junior quarterback Ryan Nassib, who has thrown at least one touchdown pass in eight consecutive games, the Orange average 333.1 yards of total offense per game: 181.1 yards passing, 152.0 rushing yards and 25.8 points per game. Nassib already has 14 touchdown passes this year, which is tied for eighth on the Syracuse single-season record list.

Who is catching all those passes? The Orange are led by Junior wide receiver Van Chew, who has a touchdown catch in three consecutive games and is averaging 62.6 receiving yards per game, which ranks fifth in the BIG EAST. Aside from Chew, Syracuse’s receiving corps boasts 10 different receivers who have caught a pass, including seven who have hauled in touchdowns.

The backfield is manned by Senior running back Delone Carter, who has 2,617 career yards on 555 carries, which ranks fifth on the Orange’s career list, and Junior running back Antwon Bailey who is also an offensive threat. Carter leads the team in rushing with 746 yards on 140 carries, and also leads the team with six TDs. Bailey is seventh on Syracuse’s career receptions by a running back list with 47 and his 405 career receiving yards rank ninth by a Syracuse running back. This year Bailey is ‘Cuse’s second-leading rusher and fourth-leading receiver, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 10.2 yards per reception.

Defensively the Orange have been extremely solid, allowing just 298.5 yards per game, which ranks 13th in total defense nationally (they’re 29th against the run and 18th against the pass). Syracuse also ranks 14th nationally with just 17.5 points per game allowed. Defensive coordinator Scott Shafer worked his magic at Stanford and is now making his mark on the Orange after just two seasons upstate. By comparison in 2008, before Shafer’s arrival, Syracuse’s total defense ranked 114th nationally.

The Syracuse D is extremely balanced. Eight Orange defenders are averaging at least four tackles per game and eight have forced at least one turnover. Led by Senior linebacker Derrell Smith, who is tied for 37th nationally with 5.45 solo tackles per game, and his 7.9 tackles per game rank fifth in the BIG EAST. He also leads the Orange defense with 63 tackles, and has forced seven fumbles in his career, including two this season, which ranks third on the Syracuse career list.

Interesting random fact: In 1989, SU defeated the Cardinals in the Coca-Cola Bowl in Tokyo, Japan, 24-13.

Same score, different outcome: Louisville 24, Syracuse 13