Matchup Preview: Syracuse Orange at Louisville Cardinals

Key players, key matchups, storylines and much more for Saturday's ACC matchup between the Syracuse Orange and Louisville Cardinals.

SYRACUSE AT LOUISVILLE

Time – 12:30pm, Papa John's Cardinals Stadium

TV/Radio – ACC Network (NBC-3 locally), 99.5FM WTKW

Series – Louisville leads 7-6

Last meeting – October 3, 2014, Louisville won 28-6

Coaches: Syracuse – Scott Shafer (13-20); Louisville – Bobby Petrino (96-38)

STORYLINE CENTRAL

Strength vs Strength, Weakness vs Weakness – The Syracuse offense has been its strongest unit this season with the defense struggling. Conversely, the Louisville offense has been the weak link while the Cardinals defense is one of the best in the conference. The key will be how each fares. Can an Orange offense with big play ability move the ball against a stingy Louisville defense? Will the Syracuse defense finally step up or will the Louisville offense come alive with another mobile quarterback giving SU fits? 

Freshmen Signal Callers – Each offense is led by a true freshman quarterback. Eric Dungey leads the Orange and is also the ACC leader in passer efficiency. Lamar Jackson has the reigns of the Cardinals offense and has dynamic playmaking ability. Both are dual threat quarterbacks who will make plays with their legs. One major difference is Dungey has done a better job taking care of the ball, while Jackson has been more turnover prone.

Road Woes – The Syracuse football Orange have not won a road game in over a year. The last time they did so was October 18th, 2014 at Wake Forest. Syracuse is looking to end that streak as well as their five game losing streak overall and two game losing streak to the Cardinals. 

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Syracuse defensive line vs Louisville offensive line

This is quite simple. The Louisville offensive line has struggled all season and injuries have forced them to use 10 different players. They have allowed 32 sacks on the season. That's four per game and nearly three times as many as Syracuse (13). The Orange defense has also struggled this season, but have had some bright spots from defensive ends Ron Thompson and Donnie Simmons

For the Syracuse defense to step up and put a solid game together, it starts up front and taking advantage of that pourous line. That means Thompson and Simmons pressuring Lamar Jackson. That means the interior of the defensive line plugging running lanes for Jackson and Brandon Radcliff

Orange wins if …

The Defense Steps Up – The Syracuse defense needs to step up, play a complete game, and give the Orange offense a chance to win it. Facing an inconsistent offense that has been far from potent this season, Chuck Bullough's bunch has that opportunity. Forcig a turnover or two would help as well. 

Cardinals win if …

The Offense Puts it Together – Against a Syracuse defense that has struggled in recent games, the Cardinals offense needs to move the ball consistently and put up some points. That does not mean 30 or 40 are necessary. Especially with a stout defense. But 24-28 points may be enough, so consistent offense will go a long way towards a victory.

KICKOFF PRIMER 

Impact Player

DE Sheldon Rankins – Rankins is the perfect defensive end for the 3-4 defense. He is big, physical, strong and has supreme quickness and athleticism for his size. He is a pass rushing threat, run stopper and playmaker.  

Something to Prove

Syracuse O-Line – The Syracuse offensive line has been improving week to week. Last week against Florida State, they had an up and down performance. The first half was very good, but they regressed in the second half. Against another talented front seven, they will be tested once again.  

Looking to Build

WR Jamari Staples – Staples had a huge day in last week's win over Wake Forest. He caught 10 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Facing a secondary that has been torched this season, being especially vulnerable to the big play, Staples could be in for another big game. 

Freshman to Watch

RB Jordan Fredericks – If Syracuse is going to have success moving the ball against Louisville, it starts with the rushing attack. That means Fredericks, who is the most dynamic and explosive back on the roster. His success, or lack thereof, may tell the tale of this game. 


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