The Syracuse Orange and Louisville Cardinals meet on Friday night in what would have been considered a classic Big East matchup years ago. The Big East is no longer active in college football, though it’s still a conference for other sports. Instead, Syracuse and Louisville compete in the ACC now with a packed field. It’s a busy conference these days with Notre Dame playing in the ACC for a year.
Notre Dame had nowhere to go as an independent and the AAC gave them a home. It’s certainly made things more interesting in the conference. In what has been a Clemson rout in recent memory since Florida State regressed, the Fighting Irish provide the Tigers with the most resistance they’ve had in a while in the ACC. Louisville was expected to be a dark horse in the ACC this season.
No one really believed they were going to knock off Clemson at the top of the mountain, but perhaps just enough to cause some havoc, and be one of the teams behind Clemson and Notre Dame in the next tier in the chopping order of the conference. That hasn’t been the case at all. The Cardinals are a frustrated 2-6 team looking for answers to their questions. Those questions have been difficult to answer.
Louisville was anticipating Malik Cunningham to take an additional leap in his junior season. He’s been solid, but his passing ability and decision making has not been as sharp as last season. Cunningham needs to cut down on the mistakes before he’s viewed as a major threat. No doubt Cunningham is still a threat, especially with his legs, but this season is doing nothing for his draft stock.
Cunningham is not the second coming of Teddy Bridgewater or Lamar Jackson, but at times last season, he would have made you believe the contrary. The Louisville offense is expected to be down a couple of playmakers, with running back Javian Hawkins unavailable and wide receiver Tutu Atwell questionable to play on Friday night.
Fortunately it’s only Syracuse, but the Cardinals can’t take the 1-7 club lightly. Syracuse has been competitive in games, and nearly upset Boston College last weekend, though ultimately fell by a score of 16-13. JaCobian Morgan made his first career start last week and did pretty well for a first-time starter against a decent Boston College defense. Head below for our free Syracuse vs. Louisville pick for November 20, 2020.
Syracuse Orange vs. Louisville Cardinals ACC Football Betting Odds:
Syracuse vs. Louisville Prediction:
Louisville are going to have to lean extensively on Malik Cunningham on Friday night. That’s essentially their game plan every week, but without Hawkins and Atwell in the lineup, more of the onus is going to fall on Cunningham. It’s been tricky for defenses to watch out for Hawkins and Malik on the option, but without Hawkins, it should be easier on the Orange tonight.
Hawkins has gained 822 yards and 7 touchdowns on 6.2 yards per carry this season. He was a major catalyst for the Cardinals in 2019. Hawkins put up 1,525 yards and 9 touchdowns on 5.8 yards per carry. A full season and Hawkins likely does around the same in 2020. If Atwell can’t play, that takes a go-to option for Malik off the field. Atwell has recorded 528 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns for the Cards.
Those are two key cogs for Louisville that Malik may not be able to work with on Friday night. We know Hawkins is out for sure, while the status of Atwell is iffy, though signs are pointing to him sitting this one out. Syracuse has been bad this season with a record of 1-7, so if there is any week to have a banged up offense it’s on Friday night. However, the Orange have at least been able to make some games competitive.
The Syracuse defense showed up well last week, as they held Boston College to 16 points in a 16-13 loss. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec was held to 208 yards with a touchdown. The Louisville offense looked lost last week, as they scored just 17 points in a 31-17 loss versus Virginia. Cunningham passed for 161 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. The only success they had was him running the football. It certainly looked like a different offense without Hawkins in the backfield.
This is the last chance for Syracuse to win another game this season. With NC State and Notre Dame to close out the year, it’s highly unlikely that Syracuse are finding an upset against either of them. However, with Louisville limping at the moment and team morale at a low in 2020, they might be able to keep things close enough here to make it a game. I don’t know if they win, but 18.5 points is a lot to lay on this Louisville squad.