As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. SU will continue its Big East schedule against Louisville at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, Nov. 10.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Louisville coach Charlie Strong isn’t big into preseason rankings and it’s hard to blame him. “Last season, we were picked to finish last,” Strong said following Louisville’s Spring Game. The exact opposite happened. Although Louisville ended the season with a 7-6 record, it finished in a three way tie for the top spot in the conference with a 5-2 record. So when many prognosticators picked the Cardinals to win the league this year, Strong was quick to downplay the expectations. “For some reason this season, they picked us very high within our league,” Strong said. “We still have a long ways to go. We’re nowhere near where we should be. We have a lot of work to do.” The predictions aren’t outragous, though, as Louisville returns many of the pieces from a defense that ranked 20th overall in the NCAA last season and has a favorable non conference schedule (the Cardinals will play Kentucky and North Carolina at home this season).
WHO TO WATCH FOR: QB Teddy Bridgewater impressed as a true freshman, completing 64.5 percent of his passes while adding 14 touchdowns. He’s throwing to an equally young and impressive receiving core, including Eli Rogers, Michaelee Harris and DeVante Parker. Parker was a scoring machine last year, with six of his 18 catches going for scores. Scott Radcliff, who had just eight receptions for 83 yards last season, hauled in nine catches for 119 yards in the spring game, and may figure into the offense, as well.
PREDICTION: Louisville was rock solid in stopping the run last season, ranking 10th nationally. Antwon Bailey was a victim of that staunch defense, rushing for just 70 yards and zero touchdowns as the Cardinals crushed the Orange, 27-10. Some of Syracuse’s woes were self inflicted. SU played an overall sloppy game, with 12 penalties for 99 yards. Despite Louisville losing superstar linebacker Dexter Heyman (who led the team in tackles, tackles of loss and interceptions), look for more of the same to happen in this year’s matchup. LOUISVILLE 30, SYRACUSE 13.