Louisville fans remember that game well. Nothing went well for the Cardinals that day, who inexplicably lost 38-35 to Syracuse, a 34-point underdog. That loss also ended Louisville's 20-game home winning streak and was the most disappointing setback in a season full of disappointment.
Now, though, Louisville is playing good football. The Cardinals have won three straight games and should have plenty of confidence as they head north to face the Orange this Saturday in the Carrier Dome after toppling then-14th ranked USF last weekend.
"It was a big win but it's only big if we can continue to win," Kragthorpe said. "We're in a five game championship run now. Every week is a championship game. And going to Syracuse this week is a championship game for us. We know we have to win if we're going to keep ourselves in the championship race."
junior receiver Scott Long.
At 1-1 in the Big East, Louisville is right in the thick of the conference title race. Except for West Virginia (2-0), every other team in the Big East has at least one league loss. Louisville, Pittsburgh, UConn, and Cincinnati all have one loss. Rutgers and USF each have two losses. Louisville's opponent this week, Syracuse, is 0-3 in the conference.
"We've already got one loss and we can't afford to lose another (Big East) game and realistically say we have our destiny in our hands," said Kragthorpe. "And we still don't. UConn has to lose another game and we have to win out.
"So we know that going to Syracuse is a huge game for us. If we want to be the Big East champion we have to beat Syracuse at Syracuse."
On paper, Syracuse should be an easy win for the Cardinals. But the game isn't played on paper – that's a lesson Louisville learned in last year's upset defeat to the Orange. And Louisville will be playing without wide receiver Scott Long, who scored two touchdowns in the win over USF. Long suffered an ACL injury in practice Tuesday and will miss the last half of the season.
The Orange has struggled on both sides of the football this season. On offense, Syracuse is struggling both to move the ball and score points, averaging only 287 yards per game and 17.7 points. On defense, the Orange has allowed 30 or more points in five of seven games this season. At 1-6, Orange coach Greg Robinson is certainly on the hot seat and speculation says he'll soon be out at Syracuse.
With virtually nothing to play for – and with a seeming lame duck coach on the sidelines – will Syracuse roll over for the Cardinals this weekend? Or will they lace up and try to win one for the Gipper - so to speak?
Either way, Steve Kragthorpe's Cards know they have to come ready to play.
"We've got a huge game this week going into Syracuse," Kragthorpe said. "We know they've got a great tradition and history in football and two years ago up there it was a 7-6 ballgame at halftime. I think Greg Robinson does a good job of having that team ready to play each week."
"We (know) the (USF) win doesn't mean a whole lot if we don't go to Syracuse and win," Kragthorpe said.
Saturday's game marks the eighth meeting between the Cardinals and the Orange.
The Orange lead the overall series, 4-3.
The Cardinals have won the last two trips to the Carrier Dome, winning 30-20 in 2003 and 28-17 in 2006.
Syracuse snapped Louisville's 20-home game winning streak last season with a 38-35 win.