Louisville football went into Syracuse with hope, optimism, and a belief by fans and staff that issues from last year had been corrected. They left Syracuse with a resounding defeat, pessimism, and many questions. It was a game where Syracuse dominated pretty much throughout and wasn’t even as close as the score shows.
The Cards got out of the starting blocks really slow. Syracuse got the ball first and marched down the field and took a 3-0 lead. Louisville didn’t do anything with their first possession, gaining only a single first down before punting. Syracuse went down and scored on a 55-yard pass and went up 10-0. Louisville was finally able to get a nice drive, going 70 yards in 7 plays, capped off by a Tiyon Evans 36-yard TD run.
Syracuse started the quarter with the continuation of a drive that started towards the end of the 1st quarter. It was a 12-play, 75-yard drive capped by a Sean Tucker rushing TD. On the next UofL possession, the Cards used a trick play pass by Braden Smith to Tyler Hudson to get down to the Syracuse 4-yard line. With the Cards poised to score, they managed not to and it was a turnover on downs. The defense did show some improvement and looked like the unit talked about all off season for a stretch of time. They forced Syracuse to punt and got the ball back for the offense which failed to produce any points before the end of the half.
Louisville gained some yards on the first drive of the half, but weren’t able to put any points on the board. The defense stopped the Orange on the ensuing possession. Louisville defense didn’t allow a score in the quarter, but Malik threw 2 interceptions in the quarter, with the last one leaving Syracuse threatening to score at the end of the quarter.
Syracuse was able to capitalize on the late 3rd quarter interception with a touchdown. The Louisville offense continued to struggle, as Cunningham coughed up the football for a third turnover. Cunningham fumbled once more, but it was recovered by Tiyon Evans. Louisville wasn’t able to put another scoring drive together and lost 31-7 to Syracuse.
UofL entered this game with some excitement and hope after making some off season acquisitions via transfer portal and on their staff. However, this game had eerily similar vibes to last year’s opener. After having dominated Syracuse for the last few outings, UofL got dominated. Syracuse had 18 penalties for 107 yards yet it did not really slow them down. While the defense did show some improvement throughout the game, it was still not enough and the offense had flashes, but once again had trouble finishing. Malik will need to be much better and the offensive line must be much better if the Cards hope to regain momentum and win games.
The Cards now have to regroup quickly as they have a short week before heading on the road to face a tough UCF squad. This game will be very tough. It took a miracle interception return by freshman LB Jaylin Alderman to defeat UCF last year at Cardinal Stadium. UofL will need much better effort and execution if they hope to start the season 1-1 instead of 2-2.
Friday, September 9th at 7:30 pm at UCF in Orlando, FL.