Syracuse travels to Louisville with a must-win mentality
Since notching the most important victory of his coaching career a month ago, Syracuse’s Dino Babers has watched his Orange plummet and turn what had become a promising season into another struggle.
Syracuse (4-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), coming off its third straight setback, a humbling 64-43 loss at home to Wake Forest, has to win its final two games to become eligible for the postseason for the first time in four years.
That scintillating 27-24 victory over then-No. 2 Clemson sure seems like a distant memory.
“They’ve got a bad taste in their mouth,” Babers said. “Hopefully, they’re anxious to play another game and prove to people that they’re not as bad as their last performance.”
Syracuse, which hasn’t won on the road this season, plays at Louisville (6-4, 3-4 ACC) on Saturday.
“This is going to be our last road trip of the year and we haven’t been able to win on the road,” Babers said. “We’re playing a fantastic football team and we just got beaten up last week. I’m looking forward to see if we can go out there and change all of that.”
Last year, Lamar Jackson shocked the Orange, rushing for four touchdowns and throwing for another in a 62-28 rout in the Carrier Dome. He finished with 199 yards rushing on 21 carries and was 20 for 39 for 411 yards with one interception as the Cardinals set a school record and came within 13 yards of the ACC record with 845 yards offensively. It was the most ever allowed by Syracuse.
“Lamar is going to get his (yards),” Babers said. “He’s hard to stop by himself. They’re not a one-man team, but you’d better try to stop everything else if you’re going to have an opportunity to win against those guys because Lamar is going to get his.”
Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey, hobbled by a lower-leg injury, was listed as questionable last week and did not play against Wake Forest after a gametime decision was made. He was at practice this week and Babers was noncommittal about the junior star’s health. Dungey again was listed as questionable for this game in Thursday evening’s injury report.
Backup Zack Mahoney made his first start of the season last week and acquitted himself well in the opening half. He guided the Orange to a 38-24 halftime lead, then was ineffective in the second half as Wake Forest outscored Syracuse 40-5 to win going away.
“We’re not hiding in the house or afraid or anything,” Orange linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “We accept what happened. We learned from it, we’ve moved on. Without a doubt, we can win the last two games. That’s why you line up and play.”
Added wideout Steve Ishmael: “We can’t let that loss affect us for the next game. The team has their head up. We still believe in ourselves.”
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