Oh... you again.
Syracuse is a team that has been struggling as of late. Overall, they look like a decent football team. But too many mistakes are being made. And mistakes in football are virtually always catastrophic. Louisville is a pretty good football team. But the last time they made the trip to the Dome they were undefeated and ranked #11/10 and left with a loss. Can history repeat itself?
On paper, both of these teams seem pretty similar in that they are both good defenses and weaker offenses. Syracuse struggles to consistently move the ball down the field, or sadly they earn drive killing penalties or worse, penalties in the Red Zone. Syracuse did cause five turnovers last weekend against Notre Dame. Louisville on the other hand hasn't allowed more than 23 points in a game all season. But they are starting freshman QB Reggie Bonnafon. So the question is, can Syracuse manage to sustain drives and put points on the board and manage to prevent Louisville from doing the same? I feel this is one of those games if I pick Syracuse to win they will lose and if I pick Syracuse to lose they will win. I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't. I picked Syracuse to upset the Cards before the season started. I might as well keep that pick alive. Either Syracuse will manage to win a squeaker, or they are going to get smacked by Louisville. Either scenario seems possible to me right now. With a freshman QB, I think Syracuse can take advantage by putting pressure on him to make decisions, some of which will be bad. If Syracuse can force some bad passes and cause turnovers or perhaps force some fumbles by getting at a freshman QB that held onto the ball a little too long then Syracuse has a shot in this one. If Bonnafon is cool under pressure and is able to find open receivers, this game is probably over. The Syracuse secondary hasn't impressed me much this season. And now I'm basically saying that the whole Syracuse outcome is depending on them. Same as it is every game really. The defense can only do so much though. Syracuse must put points on the board and sustain drives. QB Terrel Hunt is up to the task and I like how he has been playing, but he needs to dig deeper and go to the next level. He can't do that alone though. He needs wide receivers to step up. And of course the offensive play calling has to be more aware of down and distance and stop calling bubble screen after bubble screen, or only five yard passing plays. They need to stretch the field because Hunt doesn't have the greatest touch on long passes, but he can strike gold on occasion. Syracuse needs to continue to follow Coach Shafer's lead and not be as conservative as Doug Marrone was. Shafer takes chances and I like that. At least trying to win is better than punting. Anyway, after all that I'll stick with my prediction of Syracuse winning. I'll say Syracuse 27 and Louisville 24. But really, Louisville will probably win and I'll feel like an asshole all weekend. You're welcome.
This game is available nationally on ESPN at 7:00pm. John will be in the Dome under the Friday Night Lights, and I'll be in the home office again, Tweeting along with you. Enjoy the game and your weekend, no matter the outcome.