In its final season in the Big East in 2012, Louisville suffered its most lopsided defeat in the Charlie Strong era in Syracuse. The teams meet for the first time since as ACC rivals Friday when the Cardinals visit the Orange. Strong went 37-15 in four seasons at Louisville and entered Syracuse with a 9-0 mark two years ago before the Orange rolled to 45-26 win over the Cardinals, who ended in a four-way tie atop the Big East before upsetting then-No. 4 Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
First-year Louisville coach Bobby Petrino – in his second tour of duty with the Cardinals – had no such problem with Syracuse from 2003-06, winning each of the three meetings by at least 10 points. Louisville, which has won two in a row following last week’s 20-10 comeback victory over Wake Forest, will look forward to improving to 5-1 or better for the third straight season against a Syracuse team that forced five turnovers against No. 8 Notre Dame, only to lose 31-15. A win is critical for the possible bowl hopes of the Orange, who host No. 2 Florida State next week before playing four of their final six games on the road.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Louisville -2
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (4-1, 2-1 ACC): The Cardinals, who led the nation in rushing defense in 2013 (80.7 yards), are doing it again this season by holding opponents to 58.2 yards through five games after the Demon Deacons recorded minus-22 yards – the lowest total Louisville has allowed to an opponent since 2000. The Cardinals have forced 13 turnovers – the most through five contests since 2005 – nearly half of which have come courtesy of safety Gerod Holliman, who has at least one interception in four games and leads the country with six. Starting quarterback Will Gardner is questionable with a knee injury that forced him to miss the Wake Forest game.
ABOUT SYRACUSE (2-2, 0-0): With Ashton Broyld recovering from a lower leg injury that is expected to keep him out another week or two, Jarrod West stepped up with a career-high eight catches for 103 yards against the Fighting Irish – becoming the 11th receiver in school annals with at least 100 career receptions. Prince Tyson-Gulley, who rushed for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 2012 upset of Louisville, moved into second place in Syracuse history for career catches by a running back with 63. The Orange collected three turnovers in the first quarter against Notre Dame, one more than their season total entering the contest.
1. The Cardinals rank second in the nation in third-down percentage defense (21.3).
2. In its two losses, Syracuse was penalized once every 16.3 plays outside the opponent’s 30-yard line, but once every 4.1 plays inside it.
3. Louisville is one of just four schools to rank among the nation's top 20 in all four major statistical categories (scoring, total, rushing and passing defense).
PREDICTION: Louisville 24, Syracuse 17