There have been some legendary battles on the hardwood between Louisville and Syracuse, whether they occurred at on-campus sites or at Madison Square Garden in the Big East (RIP) tournament. Friday night’s college football contest certainly doesn’t profile as a legendary game, but there are a lot of interesting angles to consider for this ACC Atlantic Division contest. Both teams enter 1-0 and both teams did some very impressive offensive things. As the class of competition steps up, we’ll see if both of these teams do as well.
Louisville vs. Syracuse College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday September 9, 8:00 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from MyBookie
College Football Betting Favorite: Louisville -14.5
We’ve seen the total really climb in a hurry on this game. Louisville’s loaded offensively with true sophomore gunslinger Lamar Jackson and Syracuse head coach Dino Babers felt that watching 81 offensive plays from his team was like watching paint dry. The next under bet to hit the market will be the first. As far as the side goes, early-week bettors like the road team, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement as of yet. Bobby Petrino’s win and cover last week pushed him to 18-9 SU and 15-12 ATS with the Cardinals. Dino Babers is 1-0 and 1-0 with Syracuse, but 18-9 as an FBS head coach and 14-11-2 against the number.
The Charlotte 49ers might be the worst team in FBS, largely because they’re new to the FBS game, but it’s still obvious that Louisville has something special in Lamar Jackson. Last season’s top rusher and top passer, Jackson racked up 405 yards of total offense and eight total touchdowns in the win over Charlotte. Sixteen different receivers got in on the fun for the Cardinals, so pretty much everybody without a redshirt got some excitement. Considering offensive coordinator Garrick McGee left for Illinois, Petrino had to love the efficiency of the Lonnie Galloway/Chris Klenakis offense.
However, it’s hard to read much into this game on either side of the ball. Louisville blitzed Charlotte for 56 points in the first half, so the defense had nothing to worry about and a lot of guys were rotated in. The first successful third-down conversion against Louisville in this game will be the first that they’ve allowed this season. This is an experienced defense that won’t be fazed by what could be a pretty raucous crowd in the Carrier Dome. Over the last two seasons, the Louisville defense has held Syracuse to just 23 points, but this is a much different scheme and a much different mindset in 2016.
Matt Dungey picked a good game to attend. Quarterback Eric Dungey had a very emotional embrace with his brother, a member of the U.S. Army, prior to gametime and then went out and threw for 355 yards as part of a 554-yard onslaught by Syracuse against Colgate. Also a true sophomore, Dungey looked extremely comfortable in the up-tempo Babers offense and guys were open all over the field. The running game was a little bit flat at times, but Babers vowed to reporters after the game that it was the slowest game that his team will play. It won’t mean much that the win came over Colgate, even though they were an FCS playoff team last year, but with a dramatic scheme change, it’s almost like Syracuse is playing against itself and its own timing more than the opponent.
Defensively, the Orange really suffocated the Colgate offense. Syracuse bottled up the running game and only allowed 45 yards on 32 carries. Colgate had a total of 143 yards and just 11 first downs. It was a lot like Syracuse’s season-opening performance against Rhode Island last season, in which the Orange gave up two first downs and just 64 yards. They pitched a shutout. Over their next 11 games, Syracuse gave up 33.8 points per game. This one will definitely be a test against an explosive Louisville offense with a dynamic dual-threat quarterback.
College Football Free Pick: Syracuse +14.5
It was by design that I didn’t mention that Louisville has Florida State on deck in a huge game at Papa John’s Stadium. Going into the Carrier Dome with one eye on the future could make this one very close for comfort. Syracuse is unlikely to pull the outright upset, but with so many things to work on with the first-teamers, Dino Babers’s foot will never come off the gas. Remnants of Scott Shafer’s physical teams are still here, so expect Syracuse to play the full 60. There are no guarantees about that for Louisville.
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