The Syracuse University football program is riding high and looking to continue its momentum Saturday against the University of Louisville in a Big East Conference contest at Papa John's Cardinals Stadium (noon on Big East Network). A victory will help the Orange (5-2, 1-1 Big East) become bowl eligible for the second straight season and snap a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals (3-4, 1-1).
"We are playing a football team that we have not beaten since I've been here," said Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone Monday. "A team that is built or may be better suited for exposing things that we have been inconsistent with during the year. It's going to be a great challenge for us."
Last Friday, Syracuse pulled off its biggest upset since 2002 -- a 50-42 triple overtime victory over No. 11-ranked Virginia Tech -- by routing West Virginia University, which entered the game ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll, No. 14 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, 49-23.
The Orange defense, which currently ranks dead last in the eight-team Big East in total yards (398.9) and points (26.7) allowed per game, held the highly touted WVU offense, then ranked No. 4 in the country, to its second-lowest point total of the season, while SU offense scored five touchdowns to help earn a second straight victory over the Mountaineers (5-2, 1-1).
"We went out there and performed at a high level, which is always expected each week," said Marrone. "It was great that we were able to do something just for that that moment and to win a game at home, which is one of the things that we talked about with our kids prior to the season, for the people in this community to walk out of that stadium for a night and feel good about themselves."
Meanwhile, Louisville also pulled of an upset Friday by defeating Rutgers University, which defeated Syracuse just two weeks earlier and was alone atop of the Big East standings, 16-14. Louisville sophomore running back Jeremy Wright ran for a collegiate-best 108 yards on 11 carries to help the Cardinals snap a three-game losing streak.
As of Wednesday, the Orange were entering the contest as three-point underdogs. This is a bit of surprise considering Syracuse did just beat the league's best team convincingly and Louisville's offense is one of the worst in the Big East. However, the Cardinals have a stellar defense, ranked second in the league in total yards (302.7) and points (17.1) allowed per game, and the home-field advantage.
SB Nation New York will have more on the Louisville-Syracuse contest as the week moves along. Check back for a complete scouting report on the Cardinals, injury, in-game and postgame updates. Follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY or Jared_E_Smith.