College Football Pick
Syracuse wants to be a good football team, and the hope is that new head coach Dino Babers can do that. But in order to improve on last year’s Four wins, it’s going to take a win in a home Game like this one against Louisville to climb out of the ACC’s basement. The Cardinals started last season with three straight losses, but still finished with eight wins. With a better start this season, they’re looking to compete with the ACC’s best. At 5 Dimes Sportsbook, the Cards opened as a -12.5 point favorite on the road and quickly moved to -14.5.
Louisville will go as quarterback LAmar Jackson goes, which means the sophomore has to stay healthy. When on the field, he’s electric and a nuisance for opposing defenses. He ran for 100-plus yards five different times last season, including a ridiculous 412 yards and Four touchdowns in the last two Games of the year.
To make matters worse for a questionable Syracuse defense, Jackson didn’t even play in last year’s beat down that Louisville took 41-17. Either way, the Cardinals did whatever they wanted offensively with Kyle Bolin tossing for 362 yards and the ground Game going for 217 more. That ended up being Bolin’s best Game of the season, by far.
The problem for the Orange is that Babers was brought in to upgrade the offense. His previous teams, namely Bowling Green, weren’t great on the defensive side. Babers employs a Tampa-2 scheme, but expecting that to work in the first year would be a mistake, especially against the better teams on the Schedule.
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So it’ll be up to sophomore QB Eric Dungey to keep the Orange competitive in Babers’ hurry-up, spread offense. After last season, Syracuse obviously needed some kind of jolt on the offensive side, finishing in the bottom of almost every ACC ranking. Dungey got some experience as a freshman, and that should help, but how much?
Dungey is also a mobile quarterback that can cause problems, but experience at both skill positions should go a long way. A problem may be along the offensive line where only two starters return. The opener against Colgate didn’t provide many answers.
The Cardinals are a decent-sized favorite, especially for an early season Conference Game on the road. Maybe the reason is that their defense could be even better than a year ago. They only lost a couple pieces and return numerous options that could be playing in the NFL next year.
But the thing is, Louisville didn’t really blow out teams on the road last season. OUtside of the last Game at Kentucky, they usually won or lost by one Scoreor less. That includes a 20-19 win over lowly Wake Forest. Winning on the road in the ACC, or anywhere for that matter, isn’t easy.
Syracuse is rejuvenated with a new coach and faster offense and will be looking for an upset in their first ACC Game. Maybe Louisville will have an easy time offensively, but Dungey in the Babers offense could be the most underrated QB in the conference. It also can’t be forgotten that the Orange never lost a home Game by more than 10 points last year, including losses to LSU and Clemson.
Our Pick – Sure, Louisville won this Game a year ago 41-17. However, we have lots of common opponents to look at for these two last year and when we do, we see some very similar scores against the likes of Pitt, Florida State, Virgina, BC etc.
Both teams in goos shape in terms of returning starters. Common opponent results from last year suggest that the gap between these two is likely less than two TD’s. Revenge can also be a very powerful motivator in college football. Expect this line to drop so you may want to bet it early. Revenge! Syracuse +14.5