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Syracuse vs. Louisville Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Friday Night’s First-Half Over/Under

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Louisville Cardinals standout quarterback Malik Cunningham.

  • The Syracuse Orange will hit the road to Kentucky on Friday to take on the Louisville Cardinals under the lights.
  • Both teams have struggled at times this season, but there's still betting value on this ACC matchup.
  • Pat McMahon explains how he's betting this game heading into kickoff.

Syracuse vs. Louisville Odds

Syracuse Odds +19.5 [BET NOW]
Louisville Odds -19.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +600 / -1000 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 54.5 [BET NOW]
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds updated Friday night and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.

Syracuse (1-7) travels to Louisville (2-6) for Friday’s ACC contest featuring a pair of struggling teams.

It’s not the game of the century, but college football fans and bettors will be thankful to see this game kick off in a week full of cancellations. Syracuse and Louisville are glad to get this game in as well, with both looking to build toward the future.

Syracuse true freshman JaCobian Morgan will be under center after making his first start November 7 against Boston College. Orange coach Dino Babers and his staff have to be excited to see what Morgan can do with an extra week to prepare for this contest. And it goes without saying that Morgan’s performance could go a long way in determining who will be Syracuse’s quarterback next season.

Louisville has dealt with COVID-19 issues within the program the last couple of weeks, which hurt in losses to Virginia Tech and Virginia. The Cardinals received more tough news this week when star running back Javian Hawkins said he was opting out of the rest of the season to prepare for the NFL Draft.

The one positive note for the Cardinals in recent weeks is that many young players who were forced into action saw invaluable live, game experience that will benefit Louisville in the long term.


Syracuse Orange

Offense

Morgan is the third quarterback to start for Syracuse this season. The Orange offense has been dreadful, regardless of who’s under center. Syracuse ranks 123rd out of 126 teams in total offense,  posting a lowly 4.4 yards per play.

Morgan showed mixed results in his first start, going 19 of 30 for 188 yards, with a touchdown and interception against Boston College. Babers’ up-tempo, spread offense is designed to make life easier for his quarterback with plenty of quick throws and simple reads.

However, it still needs playmakers on the outside and a strong offensive line for the system to work. This year’s Syracuse team is not strong in those areas, and the results on the field have shown those issues.

The running game has been a major weakness as well, as the Orange have struggled to gain quality yards on first and second down to help out their quarterbacks. Syracuse is mustering just 86 yards per game on the ground, amounting to just 2.93 yards per carry.

Defense

Syracuse has  had a rough year on this side of the ball on a number of levels. The secondary has been ravaged by injuries, and has now seen its two best players opt out and declare for the draft in safety Andre Cisco and cornerback Trill Williams.

Thankfully, the secondary is the deepest unit on the team, but with its top guys gone and several other contributors missing time with injuries, the pass defense hasn’t been consistent.

The Syracuse front seven is among the ACC’s worst units that has really struggled defending the run. The Orange rank 109th in the nation in rushing defense, giving up 223 yards per game. They’ve allowed opponents to gain nearly five yards per carry, which means they could be in for a long day against a strong, explosive Louisville rushing attack.

However, the defense has been strong in one area this season and that’s forcing turnovers by the opposition. Syracuse has 17 takeaways to date, which is the second-most in all of college football.

If the Orange have any hope of keeping this game close, they’ll need the defense to come up with takeaways and put the offense in a position to score.


Louisville Cardinals

Offense

The Cardinals can move the football a lot better than your average 2-6 team. Louisville ranks in the top 40 nationally in total offense, putting up more than 440 yards per game for a solid 6.78 yards per play.

Dual-threat quarterback Malik Cunningham has had a strong junior season, completing 63 percent of his passes for 1,907 yards and 15 touchdowns. Cunningham has kept defenses on their toes with his running ability as well, accumulating 417 yards and five touchdowns on the ground to date.

The one knock on Cunningham so far comes via his nine interceptions, which is a big concern going up against a stingy, tough Syracuse secondary.

The Louisville running game has been terrific, but the sudden loss of Hawkins certainly hurts. Hassan Hall and Jalen Mitchell will likely split Hawkins’ workload, but the duo doesn’t have a ton of experience, with only 49 combined carries on the season.

However, if there’s a team you’d want to break in your new lead running backs against, it’s Syracuse and its bottom-20 ranked rush defense.

Defense

The big story for Louisville on this side of the ball has been its depleted line. Nine players missed the game Halloween game against Virginia Tech due to a COVID-19 situation, including four of the six linemen on its two-deep.

After pushing back their game against Virginia a week and having no new positive tests reported, the Cardinals should be able to get most of their players back for this game. That’s huge news for the defense, who shouldn’t have any issues slowing down a struggling Syracuse offense.

The main strength of the Louisville defense comes against the pass, where the Cardinals boast a top-30 ranking in passing yards allowed per game. They rank in the middle of the pack nationally in total and scoring defense but have struggled against the run this year.

However, with how little success Syracuse has been able to establish on the ground, a healthier front seven shouldn’t have too many issues in this game.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

With plenty of unknowns heading into this contest on both sides, I think we see conservative game plans from both teams, setting up a strong potential under spot.

Syracuse wants to get a good evaluation of Morgan, but it has limitations in its ability to throw the deep ball. With a line that struggles in protection and a lack of difference-makers outside, expect a healthy dose of run plays and screens early to help Morgan get his feet wet.

From Louisville’s standpoint, the one way Syracuse will beat them is if the Cardinals shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers. After a trio of costly turnovers last week against Virginia, including a Cunningham pick-six in the first quarter, there’s no reason to try beating a stingy Orange secondary through the air right away.

If Syracuse hangs around, it’ll need to unleash Cunningham and take some shots downfield to its speedy receivers, but it doesn’t have to risk it early if it can run all over Syracuse first.

Look for Louisville to play to its strength in the running game, hoping to exploit Syracuse’s front-seven vulnerability. This also is the perfect time to break in a new starting running back and build up his confidence.

Expect the Cardinals to keep in on the ground early and often, killing the clock on the way to a low-scoring first half.

Pick: First Half Total Under 29 (down to 28)

[Bet the Louisville-Syracuse 1H under now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

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