A quick take on No. 13 Syracuse’s terrific performance in its 54-23 dominance of Louisville on Friday night, in the regular season home finale in front of an announced crowd of 42,797 (largest of the season) at the Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: On Senior Night, the 2018 Syracuse (8-2, 5-2) team became the first to win eight games in a season before a bowl victory since the 2001 squad, earning a sweet payback victory over a Louisville (0-7, 2-8) team that had it way with the ‘Cuse the last two years. The Orange took advantage of the turnover (six) and penalty-plagued (17 for 125 yards) Cardinals to score on long runs (Moe Neal), long passes (Nykeim Johnson) and two short Eric Dungey runs. The defense was active throughout causing mayhem with four fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
ANALYSIS: A sluggish first quarter Orange start (seven points in 12 minutes) was quickly obliterated by registering 30 points in the second quarter, aided by three straight UL turnovers that led to 13 SU points and a 37-7 halftime lead. Louisville played three ineffective quarterbacks and its young team could not keep up with the explosive Orange offense. The ‘Cuse defense has improved each week. Chris Slayton blocked a field goal attempt, Alton Robinson had a couple of sacks, and Andre Cisco picked off his fifth pass of the year. Syracuse has the top overall special teams units in the country, and Andre Szmyt continued his All-American-type season connecting on four field goals on the night to up his national lead to 27 of 29 on the season and a whopping 133 points.
HEROES: In such a one-sided win, and with highlight accomplishments from the offense, defense, and special teams contributing to the win over the ‘Ville, it’s hard to single out so many individual achievements. But on this night the spotlight goes to Dungey, the senior leader who celebrated with family members before and after. From declaring last summer this team was eyeing more than the six victories needed to qualify for a bowl game, to going out and proving it with an all-conference season Dungey has left his indelible mark in the program’s modern era. Deservedly, Dino Babers made sure Dungey got his standing ovation from the Dome crowd with 4:00 to play when replaced by Tommy DeVito.
ZERO: To be extremely nit-picky, three of the Orange drives deep into UL territory ended with three of Szmyt’s field goals instead of touchdowns, and there was some fourth quarter sloppiness in execution, including a fumble and turning the ball over on downs. But on this night overall Syracuse simply overmatched a Louisville team that has now dropped seven straight games.
WHAT’S NEXT: In what should be a big week of pregame coverage nationally, Syracuse travels to New York next Sat., Nov. 17 to face No. 3 Notre Dame (9-0) in the Shamrock Series game moved from South Bend to Yankee Stadium. The teams last met in 2016 at MetLife Stadium with the Irish winning 50-33. Notre Dame hosts 4-5 Florida State Sat. night. Game Time: 2:30 p.m. ET / TV-Radio: NBC-Sirius XM.