After two Big East road wins, #27 Syracuse comes home with a chance to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2004-05. To do so, the Orange will have to beat Louisville-a team it has had success against recently. SU upset the Cardinals in 2007 and 2008 and lost 10-9 last year.
The Cards offense is in disarray right now. For the second week in a row, Syracuse is unsure of who its opponent’s starting quarterback will be. Louisville signal-caller Adam Froman was pulled from the Cards’ 20-3 loss against Pitt last weekend. Although he and his coach insisted he was not injured in postgame interviews, it has been confirmed that he has a bruised thigh. Maybe that contributed to his ineffectiveness. He completed 13 of 22 passes for just 82 yards. If Froman can’t go, Justin Burke will get the start. The senior is not completely inexperienced. Burke started three games last season, but has only completed seven passes this season. The Orange may also avoid LVILLE’s stud tailback Bilial Powell, who injured his knee in the third quarter last weekend. Powell is averaging 133.38 rushing yards per game (5th in the country) and has a team-leading 1067 total rushing yards and nine touchdowns this season. Adding insult to injury, the Cardinals have not scored a touchdown in seven straight quarters.
The injuries to Powell and Froman give SU’s nationally ranked defense an even bigger advantage. If Scott Shafer’s unit, which is allowing 298.5 yards a game, can pressure an injured Froman or rusty Burke like it pressured Chazz Anderson and Geno Smith, Syracuse has a good chance of clinching bowl eligibility on Saturday. They should not get too over-confident; however, because the Cardinals do have a talented offense. Until last weekend’s debacle against Pitt, Louisville was second in the country in total offense and scoring.
Syracuse’s running game has been carrying the bulk of the load for the Orange offense lately. SU is averaging 152 rushing yards per game (25.4 more than last year) and Delone Carter has gained more than 100 yards on the ground in four of the last six games. It would be nice to see the passing game show some signs of life. Ryan Nassib has been hindered by a shaky protection and the lack of a deep threat. Regardless, he would be much more efficient if he stopped overthrowing the ball.
As we enter the stretch run of the season, it is important that the Orange remains level-headed. At his press conference this week, Doug Marrone downplayed SU’s recent success saying that it “hasn’t really accomplished anything yet.” He’s right. Syracuse is a feel-good story this week, but just like two wins can inspire hope that things are turning around, a couple of losses can have fans saying, “Same old Orange.” This team has worked too hard to let that happen.
SU; 27 LVILLE: 10
It’s bowl time!
About the Author
Written by Beth Ann Clyde
I graduated from Syracuse University in 2009 and can count the number of times I witnessed the Orange win a football game on two hands.