One week after securing one of their biggest wins in recent years in knocking off West Virginia, Syracuse undid a lot of their good work on Saturday by being dominated at Louisville, 27-10. The final score was not truly indicative of the lopsided nature of game, as the Orange (5-3, 1-2 Big East) were shut down on offense for most of the game as they punted a dozen times and mustered only 246 total yards against the Cardinals (4-4, 2-1), who won for the third straight meeting in the series. Once again, the SU defense was victimized by the big play, as they gave up a run of 61 yards and passes of 44 and 42 yards, which accounted for over 40% of the Louisville offense on the day.
Things started off poorly for the Orange, as those two long passes came on the opening drive for the hosts. The second of those big plays reached the end zone and Syracuse trailed 7-0 with the game barely two minutes old. The Orange, who did not have a single play stopped for a loss in their previous victory, set the offensive tone for the day on their first possession by losing yards on their first play, then punting without registering a first down. The SU defense tried to put a charge into the team by forcing a Cardinal fumble and recovering it at the Orange 32, but once again the Orange offense proved toothless, punting three plays later. On their following possession, Louisville strung together a long touchdown drive and took a 14-0 lead with under three minutes left in the opening quarter. Two possessions later, Syracuse put together their first scoring threat and cashed in, capping an 11-play, 61-yard drive with Ross Krautman’s 34-yard field goal with over three minutes before the half. Louisville held the ball the remainder of the first half, but did not score, sending the game to intermission while holding a 14-3 lead.
The third quarter was the death knell for the Orange, as they mustered a first down on their first play of the session, but no more in three possessions. The Cardinals set off on a drive late in the third quarter that resulted in a field goal on the first play of the fourth period and stretched their lead to 17-3. SU again could not move the ball and punted. The hosts effectively ended the game three plays later, when they scored on a 61-yard touchdown run to extend the margin to 24-3. Syracuse had their next end drive in Cardinal territory when they failed to convert a fourth down. The teams traded punts following their next possessions, then Louisville added on their second field goal for a 27-3 stranglehold with under three minutes to go. The SU offense came to life at that point, moving 63 yards in a half dozen plays and notching a touchdown when Ryan Nassib hooked up with Jarrod West for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Krautman tacked on the extra point to close the scoring at 27-10 in favor of the Cardinals with 1:31 left in the game.
Ryan Nassib completed 22-of-36 passes on the day, but racked up only 162 yards and a touchdown. Antwon Bailey had his 100-yard rushing game streak snapped, finishing with 70 yards on 15 carries. Nick Provo and Van Chew topped the team in receiving, as they each logged four catches for 31 yards.
Marquis Spruill paced the Orange defense with nine tackles, a forced fumble, and one of the team’s three sacks in the game. Chandler Jones and Cameron Lynch each added a sack while Siriki Diabate was credited with a fumble recovery.
Once again, Syracuse will try to become bowl-eligible this Saturday, when they face Connecticut (3-5, 1-2) on the road. The Huskies, who are headed by former Orange head coach Paul Pasqualoni in his first year back at the college level, lost at Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, 35-20. ESPNU will broadcast the SU-UConn matchup, which will get underway at 9:00am Pacific.