22.5 seconds. That’s the time that it takes in between snaps for Dino Baber’s Syracuse Orange football team. It’s also the amount of time that could potentially cause Todd Grantham a few headaches on Friday. Needless to say, 22.5 seconds is one of the fastest tempos for any college football team.
I said it first, and I’ll say it again- Louisville’s defense is good. It ranked 18th nationally last year, and allowed 14 points in the murder of the Charlotte 49ers last week, (I know it’s Charlotte, but we had our second and third teams in the second half). But this will be a test like none other. Of course, Louisville beat Syracuse last year at home last year, and have won five out of six. But this is a different Syracuse team. It has a new coach, and a new offensive style.
Early on last week, Charlotte tried to use a fast pace on Louisville’s defense, but the Cards handled it quite well. It will definitely require judgement of the captains on defense, and the Cards won’t be in the huddle as much. But with returning nine of eleven starters, the Cards have experience to be able to handle the Orange on defense. With that being said, there’s no way that this game will be a shutout, and probably will be closer than the spread indicates, but I still like Louisville’s chances.
And I have two words why: Lamar. Jackson.
After setting the university’s record for the most amount of touchdowns for a single player in a single game IN THE FIRST HALF, Jackson looks to keep Syracuse’s defense guessing. Everyone knows what he can do rushing, as he led the team in yards last week. He also has improved greatly on passing, throwing to 16 different receivers last Thursday. It is that reason that makes him so dangerous to a defense. He won’t have the same success as he did last week, but I think that his Heisman chances will improve after Friday.
Jackson is not new when it comes to playing in a hostile environment, as he totally dismantled Kentucky last season at Commonwealth Stadium, which quickly got a lot friendlier as BBN started heading for the exits before the final horn. It will be a similar setting in the Carrier Dome, which is a tough atmosphere to play in. Jackson will be prepared for it, and even if confusion exists for different plays, Jackson will still be able to take the ball out and gain yardage on it.
As for my prediction, I like Louisville to win this game, 44-38.
The game will take place on Friday at 8:00 p.m., on ESPN 2.