Louisville’s defense appears to be rounding into form just as the regular season is winding down. The Cardinals on Saturday host Syracuse, which once again may be short-handed at quarterback, for an ACC contest.
After losing three of its previous four games, Louisville topped Virginia 38-21 last Saturday behind a revitalized defensive effort. The Cardinals gave up only 277 total yards - 63 on the ground - and notched a season-high four sacks. “It seemed like everything was going well,” Louisville linebacker James Hearns told reporters. “It was one of the most fun games we played this year.” Syracuse had fun in the first half of last week’s contest against Wake Forest before a 38-24 halftime advantage turned into a 64-43 defeat.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU. LINE: Louisville -13
ABOUT SYRACUSE (4-6, 2-4 ACC): Eric Dungey missed the game versus Wake Forest with a leg injury, but coach Dino Babers said the quarterback’s rehab is going well and he may be ready to suit up Saturday. If he can’t play, the Orange once again will give the nod to Zack Mahoney, who was 33-of-60 for 384 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions against the Demon Deacons. “I think we can be OK if we have to go with the other guy,” Babers told reporters regarding Mahoney, who likely would continue to target Steve Ishmael (92 catches - second-best in the nation).
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (6-4, 3-4): Hearns recorded three sacks last week as Louisville posted its second-biggest margin of victory this season. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was terrific, accounting for four touchdowns - three through the air and one on the ground, where he added 147 yards. In total, Jackson has reached 100 rushing yards seven times this season and has 15 rushing TDs to go with a crisp 21-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio through the air.
1. Syracuse needs to win its final two games to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2013.
2. Ishmael needs 54 receiving yards to break Marvin Harrison’s school record (2,728).
3. Since joining the ACC, the Cardinals have won all three meetings with the Orange by an average of 26.7 points.
PREDICTION: Louisville 39, Syracuse 37