LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In years past, a game against Syracuse could have been just what the doctor ordered for a struggling football team.
Two years ago, thanks in part to a highlight-reel touchdown -- one of five for which he accounted -- it was perhaps the game that put Lamar Jackson atop the Heisman race.
But this is 2018. Gone is Jackson. Gone are enthusiasm and excitement. And gone, many think, might coach Bobby Petrino be soon.
Another difference is what’s happening in Syracuse this year. Winners of three straight, the Orange are 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the ACC. Third-year coach Dino Babers has his squad sitting at No. 13 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings.
Louisville’s game at Syracuse is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday night. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Syracuse can’t win the ACC, so don’t expect it to make the playoff. But the Orange still have plenty to play for, and a tuneup against a struggling Louisville team could set them up well for their final two games -- next week against visiting No. 3 Notre Dame and Nov. 24 at No. 17 Boston College.
Winning out won’t be easy, but if Syracuse does it, it will finish 10-2 and play in a meaningful bowl game. Plus it will be every fan’s second-favorite team if it can knock the Irish from the unbeaten ranks and playoff contention.
The Cards, meanwhile, have endured a difficult stretch, within a difficult season. Sandwiched around a 77-16 thrashing at the hands of Clemson on Saturday were the announcements of multiple transfers by current players, as well as decommitments from recruits.
At 2-7 and 0-6 in the ACC, Louisville has allowed 59 points per game in its last four outings. The Cards haven’t won a game since they beat Western Kentucky, when it was 92 degrees outside on Sept. 15.
Syracuse is a 21-point favorite.