Orange and Cardinals meet on Friday night with both teams looking for their second ACC win of the season
Two struggling teams in the ACC will meet each other on Friday in primetime.
Both the Syracuse Orange (1-7, 1-6 ACC) and Louisville Cardinals (2-6, 1-6) are looking to get their second conference victory of the season. The Orange's only other ACC win came against Georgia Tech on Sept. 26. The Cardinals have lost two straight after their first ACC win against Florida State on Oct. 24.
When it comes to the overall series, Louisville holds an 11-7 edge against Syracuse. The Cardinals have won five of their last six matchups, including last year's matchup 56-34 in Louisville.
Syracuse at Louisville
Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. ET
Spread: Louisville -18
When Syracuse Has the Ball
Syracuse's offense has been really struggling as of late during its five-game losing streak. The Orange are ranked 123th in total offense at just 263.8 yards per game. Syracuse is also averaging just 18.3 points per game, which is 114th nationally.
In the Orange's last game against Boston College, freshman JaCobian Morgan completed 19 of 30 passes for 188 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his first career start. Morgan leaned heavily on receiver Taj Harris, who recorded seven receptions for 61 yards, and running back Sean Tucker was effective with 52 yards on 11 carries.
Syracuse will be facing a Louisville defense that's giving up nearly 30 points per game. The Cardinals are also allowing 392.1 yards defensively per game. Although Louisville has given up more than 40 points three times, it also held then-No. 4 Notre Dame and Florida States to 12 and 16 points, respectively within the last month.
When Louisville Has the Ball
In its 31-17 loss to Virginia last week, Louisville had a 478-368 advantage in total yards. But three turnovers were ultimately their undoing, and that's been the case all season long. Louisville has committed 18 turnovers in eight games, which is the third-worst in the FBS this season.
The key to Louisville holding on to the ball is quarterback Malik Cunningham eliminating the mistakes. Against Virginia, Cunningham passed for 161 yards and rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns. However, his fumble in the fourth quarter proved to be costly.
Louisville has a dynamic group of players that Syracuse will need to worry about. Not only Cunningham but also receiver Tutu Atwell, who recorded five catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns in last weekend's loss to Virginia. Running back Javian Hawkins, who ranks fourth in the ACC with 822 rushing yards, announced on Monday that he was opting out of the remainder of the season and entering the 2021 NFL Draft. He finished last season with 1,525 yards and nine touchdowns.
This game could be challenging for Syracuse on several different levels. Not only is the Orange having problems scoring offensively, but they also rank 103th in total defense as they're giving up 464.3 yards per game.
Louisville will be without Javian Hawkins, but they still have enough playmakers to the point that they should be fine, at least for this game. Running back Hassan Hall should return this week after missing the last three due to injury. He will team up with Jalen Mitchell and Maurice Burkley in the Cardinals backfield.
As long as Louisville takes care of the ball, it should win this game pretty easily.
Prediction: Louisville 41, Syracuse 20
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— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.