Game Preview: Louisville at Syracuse

Cardinal Authority provides a preview of the University of Louisville's Friday night game at Syracuse's Carrier Dome.

Game Details

Where: Carrier Dome (50,000)
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Radio: 840 AM in Louisville, Sirius Satellite Radio - ch. 119; XM Radio – ch. 193
Surface: FieldTurf

The Backdrop

Syracuse (2-2, 0-0) enters the game as the last ACC team to play in a conference game this season, while it will be Louisville's (4-1, 2-1) fourth league game. A win would keep the Cardinals within a half game back of defending national champion Florida State and a half game ahead of Clemson (U of L's next opponent) in the ACC Atlantic Division race. The path to the division crown gets much more difficult with an Orange victory.

Series History

The two programs don't have a lengthy history with each other, but they have been familiar foes in recent years as members of the Big East Conference. Friday's night match split a 6-6 series tie between the two schools, as Friday night’s game will mark the 13th in the series. The announced departure of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC in 2011 was a major catalyst in the end of the Big East as a football playing conference, along with the subsequent birth of the American Athletic Conference.

The Orange handed the Cardinals their first loss in 2012 with a 45-26 defeat in the Carrier Dome. Louisville’s last win in the series was a 27-10 win at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2011. Louisville has won three of the last four meetings in the series and is 3-3 all-time in the Carrier Dome.

Head coach Bobby Petrino is 3-0 all-time versus the Orange and 2-0 in the Carrier Dome. Petrino's last meeting against Syracuse came during the Cardinals 2006 Big East Championship season, when U of L won 28-17 at the Carrier Dome.

Statistical Comparison

This is a game that U of L dominates from a statistical comparison. While Syracuse tops the Cardinals in total offense, a closer look reveals that the Orange struggle against the pass and must have success on the ground to have an opportunity to succeed. Despite the struggles that come when breaking in two first-time starters and an inconsistent offensive line, the Cardinals prove to be the more balanced attack.

The Syracuse defense's strength is against the run, where it ranks among the nation's top 40, but it among the bottom third of FBS programs against the pass.

The Cardinals also outshine Syracuse in special teams, an area that U of L has had struggles in all phases through five games.

Total Offense
78 395.60 48 450.50
Passing Offense
61 243.4 79 218.0
Passing Efficiency
68 128.61 93 117.44
Rushing Offense
80 152.2 24 232.5
Scoring Offense
50 34.4 85 25.5
First Downs
40 106 76 89
Third Down
57 0.422 102 0.345
Rushing Defense
1 58.2 38 118.5
Pass Defense
15 167.0 87 256.0
Pass Eff. Defense
15 97.22 109 148.50
Total Defense
3 225.2 53 374.5
Net Punting
100 35.04 122 31.11
Kickoff Returns
17 25.50 103 18.46
Turnover Margin
49 0.40 16 1.00
Sacks 11 19 19 13
Tackles For Loss
23 7.4 35 6.8
Sacks Allowed
113 3.20 4 0.25


**Freshman Reggie Bonnafon will start at quarterback for the Cardinals. He accounted for more than 250 yards of offense in his first career start last weekend against Wake Forest. Sophomore quarterback Will Gardner continues to recover from a late hit to his knee and is questionable against Syracuse.

**The Syracuse roster has also been hit by injuries. At least 7 players are expected to sit out Friday's game against U of L. It was reported earlier this week that receiver Brisley Estime would miss the game. For more on Syracuse's injury report, click here

**Orange quarterback Terrel Hunt leads his team in both passing and rushing through four games this season. He has thrown for 782 yards and one touchdown, while running 46 times for 299 yards and six scores.

**Linebacker Keith Kelsey leads the team with 28 tackles, while linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin has a team-high four sacks (three against Wake Forest).

**Sophomore safety Gerod Holliman leads the nation with six interceptions after picking off one against Wake Forest.

**Louisville is 18-0 in the last three seasons when attempting at least 35 rushes in a game.

**Louisville has scored in 22 of its 23 trips (96%) to the red zone this season. In 2013, Louisville finished 50-of-58 in the red zone (86%).

**Louisville was just 2-of-6 in 13 games last season on fourth down, while this season Louisville has already converted 10 of 13 attempts (81.8), which ranks 15th in the nation.

**Louisville is 45-8 when scoring 20 points or more under Bobby Petrino and 39-4 when leading after three quarters during his tenure.

Social Updates

Cardinal Authority's Jody Demling and Michael McCammon will provide updates before, during and after the game via the Cardinal Authority forums and social media.

Beginning near kickoff, Cardinal Authority will host a live game thread in the Insiders forum, which is located here. Fans are encouraged to participate in the discussion. Additionally, there is a game thread in the Cardinal Authority football forum, The CardMarch, located here.

Follow publisher Jody Demling on Twitter at @jdemling and senior writer Michael McCammon at @mcmichael20.

Also, be sure to follow Cardinal Authority on Instagram by clicking here.

Coach Talk

U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham on preparing to face the Syracuse offense.

Todd Grantham

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