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Louisville Slugged By Orange Crush

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So I guess it's going to be a weekly thing this season. All the big names are coming up with uninspired performances against all the wrong teams, and nobody wants to be ranked anymore.

After Louisville got upset by in-state rival Kentucky last weekend, I said they would be alright, because they got to head home and play against Syracuse. Brian Brohm must have heard me and wanted to prove me wrong.

Louisville's fans spend most of the night booing (rightfully so), and the Cardinals needed a couple of late miscues by the Orangemen to make the game a seemingly more interesting 38-35 loss.

There is a lot I could throw at you to try and explain the strangeness of this occurrence, but let me start with a chart:

                  First three games   9/22/07
                   SYR OPP   LOU OPP   SYR LOU
PTS 32 118   165 92   38 35
Rush YD 95 798   690 580   52 72
Pass YD 501 562   1161 706   428 555
Total YD 596 1360   1851 1286   480 627
Sacked 18 0   3 3   2 1
INTs 1 2   1 2   0 2
Fumbles 1 0   1 2   2 2
Pen./yds 18-140 18-137   26-234 13-164   11-96 11-100

There is not a terrible ton surprising about the final numbers in the game. Louisville's offense put up good ones and their defense didn't, just like their earlier games. Syracuse did the exact same thing it has done all year, except they condensed the result from three games to one. There's so much more to see, though.

Syracuse QB Andrew Robinson (17-26, 428 yards, 4 TDs) started the fireworks early, with a 79 yard touchdown pass to Taj Smith (who was "standing at midfield, waving his arms") on the first play from scrimmage. Then things hit a lull for a while, as the teams traded punts for the remainder of the quarter.

Just past the two-minute mark in that first quarter, Louisville got the ball and marched their way downfield to get back in the game, but that lead was short-lived, as Syracuse returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards to take the lead right back.

Louisville fumbled on their next play from scrimmage, then went back to trading punts, until halfway through the second quarter. Cardinals QB Brian Brohm (45-65, 555 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs) managed consecutive completions that got Louisville from their own 23 to the Syracuse 30 yard line – then threw four straight incomplete passes and turned the ball over on downs. Syracuse promptly followed that with a 6-yard pass, a 21-yard pass, a one yard run, and a 42-yard touchdown pass.

The second half might have happened, or some sneaky producer may have just put the first half on loop. Louisville came out with possession to start the half and fumbled on their fourth play of the drive. Punts were traded, then Louisville scored to cut into the lead halfway through the third quarter, only to once again give it back on a 60-yard touchdown pass two plays later.

You get the pattern by now. Louisville got the ball back, and three plays later Brohm was intercepted, though luckily (?) that miscue only led to a Syracuse field goal.

Louisville charged back, notching two touchdowns off Syracuse turnovers to pull the score to 38-35 with a minute left, but their onside kick was rather awful and that was all she wrote.

I, among others, should probably have seen last week and this week's results coming. when Louisville had only managed a 38-35 halftime lead against Middle Tennessee State, it was probably a sign that their defense wasn't going to be very helpful this season.

I'm not sure where the line stands between the Florida Gators and Louisville (two teams that are and are not winning shootouts, respectively), but the Big East definitely took another gut punch to their credibility this week. One thing I know for sure is this: when I looked at Louisville's schedule in the preseason, i saw four teams that were decidedly not good (Murray State, MTSU, Syracuse, NC State) and five who were okay at best (Kentucky, Utah, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Pitt), and assumed that Louisville would be 9-0 when they played WVU. Now? I'll be impressed if they're 6-3.

Don't expect this to be any sort of sudden surge for Syracuse. They still can't run the ball or stop anybody on defense, and after Miami (OH) next week, they have to face West Virginia and Rutgers. Say hello to the usual losing year.

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