For Syracuse football, the ball has started rolling down the hill. After starting out 3-0 for the first time since 1991, Syracuse has lost five in a row and has started to look more and more like last year’s team instead of a rejuvenated team half way to a bowl game. This week Syracuse has another tough one against Louisville, who after starting 0-3 has won four of its last five. Two teams trending in the opposite direction will meet on Saturday, and the Orange will try to shift the tide Saturday. To do it, Scott Shafer will have to take advantage of Louisville’s biggest weaknesses, which we’ll highlight in this week’s By The Numbers.
24.4 points per game (94th in country)
Offense is the weaker of the two sides of the ball for the Cardinals. That’s good, because defense is probably where the Orange struggles the most. Lamar Jackson is only completing 57.9 percent of his passes, but has been more efficient scoring the ball in the Cardinals’ winning streak, throwing for seven touchdowns to only three interceptions. Jackson has also run for four touchdowns during the stretch and has two games with over 100 yards rushing. Syracuse can win if it can bend and not break, but the offense might not be able to keep up if the defense can’t keep the Cardinals in check.
140 rushing yards per game (105th in the country)
One of the biggest keys to Syracuse keeping it close Saturday will be making Louisville one-dimensional. The Cardinals’ numbers running the ball have been miserable this year, despite having a dual-threat quarterback to pad the rushing numbers. Jackson lead the team in both passing and rushing, and it isn’t because he’s been having an outstanding year on the ground. After Jackson, Louisville’s next best rusher is averaging 33 yards per game. The Orange needs to make sure it stays that way.
41 yards per punt (76th in the country)
Special teams is one of the most underrated aspects in all of sports. Just think of how many points Syracuse would have scored over the past two years if it had just started 10 yards further up the field. Of course, there isn’t much Syracuse can do to impact how far Louisville kicks the ball, but it will really be about if the Orange can execute on its chances. Better field position means more scoring, or at least it should, and Syracuse will need it to pull of the upset this weekend.
The Orange is about two touchdown underdogs in this one, but have been 5-3 against the spread so far this season. If you don’t have faith in the Orange pulling out the win Saturday, maybe you could at least take them in the betting line.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson