Louisville vs. Syracuse Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet This ACC College Football Matchup
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham.
Louisville vs. Syracuse Odds
-106o / -114u
-106o / -114u
There are no tune-ups for either one of these ACC programs that will play a conference game right out of the gates.
Since finishing 10-3 with a final top-15 national ranking in 2018, Syracuse has continued to trend downward. The Orange have finished under .500 in each of the past three seasons with a disappointing 11-24 overall record.
During that span, Louisville has dominated this series, winning all three meetings with ease. The Cardinals won each by at least three touchdowns, including two straight beatdowns by a combined score of 71-3.
Syracuse hopes a change of scenery will lead to better results. After making three straight trips to Kentucky, the Orange will finally get to host this series for the first time since a resounding victory back in 2018.
Can the Orange hold serve at home, or will the Cardinals continue their recent head-to-head dominance? Let’s take a closer look.
The Cardinals have a chance to put up monster offensive numbers with the return of quarterback Malik Cunningham. The dual-threat Cunningham, who has amassed 100 career touchdowns, led the team in both rushing and passing last season.
He’ll work behind a very seasoned front that returns five linemen with at least one full season of starting experience. That includes a former All-American center and two three-year starting guards. The tackles have a few more questions, but this unit has enormous potential overall.
The running back room has an abundance of depth. It legitimately goes four deep after adding Tennessee transfer Tiyon Evans.
Wide receiver remains the biggest unknown. After losing its top two wideouts to the NFL in 2020, Louisville once again lost its top duo after Jordan Watkins and Tyler Harrell transferred to Ole Miss and Alabama, respectively.
Louisville hopes a pair of transfers in Dee Wiggins (Miami) and Tyler Hudson (Central Arkansas) can fill that void. Cunningham can still lean on star tight end Marshon Ford, but there could be some growing pains with the outside receivers.
With that said, the Cardinals haven’t had any issues putting up points in recent seasons. It’s the defense that has let continually let them down.
This season, the interior has more promise with the addition of pro prospect Jermayne Lole at nose tackle. The rest of this group also added much-needed bulk. Even with an underwhelming defensive end rotation, the run defense should improve after finishing 98th in Standard Line Yards in 2021.
The back seven underperformed last year, but there’s a solid foundation with a pair of All-ACC caliber players in outside linebacker Yasir Abdullah and cornerback Kei’Trei Clark. Plus, the Cardinals added a handful of promising transfers, including:
- Linebacker Momo Sanogo from Ole Miss (206 career tackles)
- Cornerback Quincy Riley from MTSU (led FBS in INT per game in 2021)
- Cornerback Jarvis Brownlee from Florida State
If those pieces fit, this defense could take a big leap forward with an improved interior. If not, Louisville may find itself once again in high-scoring affairs weekly.
After three consecutive losing campaigns, Dino Babers finds himself on the hot seat. In a potential desperation move, he brought in new offensive coordinator Robert Anae from Virginia.
I’m not sure he’s the best fit for this particular offense that thrived in a run-heavy attack with quarterback Garrett Shrader and record-breaking back Sean Tucker.
Expect extreme tempo from Anea and likely a heavier pass mix. I’m just not sure that suits a group that finished as a bottom-10 passing offense with unproven wide receivers and a quarterback who struggles with downfield accuracy.
The offensive line has struggled immensely in recent years but at least has returning size and experience. It excelled in run blocking last year but really struggled in pass protection. That could cause major problems if Syracuse does indeed pass more frequently.
The defense, led by third-year coordinator Tony White, will benefit from the return of an extremely experienced back-end after linebacker Mikel Jones and cornerback Garrett Williams didn’t jet for the NFL.
However, the Orange must replace all three senior starters up front (3-3-5 base) from a defense that finished 15th nationally in Sack Rate.
If Syracuse can avoid a precipitous fall in pressure rate, the rock-solid back eight should take care of the rest and likely even see an uptick in turnovers. But that’s a big “if.”
Louisville vs. Syracuse Betting Pick
Louisville should’ve finished better than 6-7 last year, but it went 2-4 in one-possession games, primarily as a result of blowing far too many second-half leads. I don’t think that’s as much of a concern here. If Louisville does build a lead, I can’t see Syracuse mounting a late comeback.
I’m sure Syracuse will have plenty of new wrinkles on offense that might surprise the Cardinals on the road. It also may take some time for Cunningham to gel with his new receivers. That could lead to some early success for the Orange, who should come out energized for a new season at home against a conference opponent.
That said, Louisville is just significantly better. Its offensive line should handle the new Syracuse front, creating running lanes and time for Cunningham.
I also expect the Cardinals to possess a stronger run defense. That’s absolutely paramount against Shrader and Tucker.
I project Louisville as right around a six-point favorite, so kudos if you grabbed -3. With the line now creeping up to -4, I’ll wait to see if it hits -3 again. If not, I’ll look for a better price live and might not potentially throw the Cardinals in a moneyline parlay or round robin.