Syracuse Has Revenge in Mind on Friday Against Visiting Louisville

Syracuse vs. Louisville

Rainman M.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 11:42 AM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 11:42 AM UTC

Syracuse hosts Louisville on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN 2. The Orange are heavy favorites, but unique circumstances suggest they will be motivated to blow past the large spread.

Louisville (2-7 SU, 1-8 ATS) at No. 13 Syracuse (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS)Friday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN 2)Free NCAAF Pick: Syracuse -20.5Best Line Offered: GTBets

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Regarding the spot, there are two competing notions. According to Louisville backers, Syracuse will be looking ahead to its next game against elite Notre Dame because they can afford to not take Louisville seriously. The problem with this view is that, in almost three years under Coach Dino Babers, the Orange have not tended to look ahead. In 2016, they covered as 24-point favorites against Colgate, although they faced then-ranked Louisville the following week. Last year, they easily covered as nine-point favorites against Central Michigan before heading into Death Valley the following week. This season, they covered as 45-point favorites against Wagner before hosting Florida State for their ACC opener. The Orange consistently take their opponents seriously even if they are heavily favored.

The better-supported view is that Friday’s spot favors the Orange, who have been revenge-minded throughout this year. Last year, they lost to Florida State. This year, quarterback Eric Dungey promised annihilation and Syracuse beat Florida State 30-7 as an underdog. Last year, they lost to NC State. This year, they beat NC State by 10 points as an underdog. Last year, they lost to Wake Forest. This year, they nearly tripled the spread in their defeat of Wake Forest. So far, Syracuse is 3-0 SU and ATS against the ACC opponents that they lost to last year. Syracuse returned more starters than almost all of the other ACC teams and these players evidently don’t forget year-old losses. Next on their list is Louisville, who destroyed them last year.

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Last game ever at the Dome on Friday. Been through it all with these guys. How about we pack the dome one time for the seniors Orange Nation? #PackTheDome

— Eric Dungey (@EricDungey) 3. November 2018
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Even if Syracuse were not out for revenge, Louisville has been a betting disaster. They are 1-8 ATS with the one cover coming against perhaps equally disastrous Florida State. In the past two games, Louisville has surrendered 133 points combined —77 against Clemson and 56 against Wake Forest. Since October, they have conceded at least 50 points in every game, except when they allowed "only" 38 points to Boston College, which played without its best offensive player AJ Dillon. Louisville’s defense ranks 119th, allowing nearly 500 yards per game. Its rush defense is particularly bad, allowing 290 rush yards per game, which ranks 127th (fourth-to-last). It's not like Louisville’s run defense only is allowing elite rush attacks to thrive. Virginia, for example, ranks 75th with 153.4 rush yards per game. Against Louisville, they ran for 204 yards on more than five yards per carry. Without its star running back, BC ran 61 times for 251 yards against Louisville. Teams are able to keep running with success against Louisville.

In terms of personnel, Louisville’s defense returned only four starters and is downgraded from last year’s already below-average run defense. But players, who have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of Louisville’s current, first-year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, suggest that bad coaching may better explain Louisville’s issues. The front seven looks lost. The defensive linemen aren’t demonstrating their knowledge of basic fundamentals like thrusting their hand into the opposing lineman’s chest. The surely know those fundamentals, but they generally don’t care to invest effort. For example, they aren’t pursuing the ball carrier or filling in opposing running lanes energetically.

Syracuse ranks 34th in rushing yards per game. The effectivity of Syracuse’s rush attack was predictable because they returned all of their running backs and six offensive linemen who have started at least 12 games in a season and five who have started an entire season. Last week, they achieved 264 rush yards in a rout against Wake Forest even though starting running back Moe Neal left the game due to an injury. Neal had had 11 carries for 66 yards and his backup Dontae Strickland nearly produced the same numbers behind the same stellar offensive line. Neal is listed as "questionable" for Friday’s affair, but Syracuse is evidently fine without him. Besides Strickland, quarterback Dungey is the team’s leading rusher with 628 rush yards on 4.8 yards per carry. Syracuse averages more than 40 points in its four games in which Dungey ran for at least 70 yards. Louisville has a poor history against mobile quarterbacks. Though not so much a runner, Wake Forest freshman Sam Hartman ran for his best YPC average against an ACC opponent, 3.8 on 12 carries, against Louisville. UVA’s Bryce Perkins gashed them for 78 yards on 14 carries.

Louisville’s offense, which is led by a quarterback who has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and a rush attack that ranks 119th in YPC, won’t keep up with Syracuse. Because the spot and match-up both favor the Orange, take them with your NCAAF Picks.

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