Football Bowl Subdivision
WEEKLY SCHEDULE
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              === Cardinals take on Orange in Big East battle ===
 
 Syracuse, NY (Sports Network) - The two best quarterbacks in the Big East
 Conference will duel it out this weekend in the Carrier Dome when Teddy
 Bridgewater and the undefeated Louisville Cardinals square off with Ryan
 Nassib and the upstart Syracuse Orange.
 
 After allowing an upset-minded Temple squad hang around early on, Louisville
 turned on the afterburners and cruised to a 45-17 victory last weekend. The
 win gives Louisville a 9-0 record for the first time in school history and
 launches the Cardinals to No. 9 in the most recent BCS standings but just No.
 11 in the top-25. As has come to be expected from any head coach, Charlie
 Strong has largely dismissed the success of his team this season.
 
 "I just look at our program, and we are sitting here at 9-0, and we are still
 not anywhere near where we should be," Strong said. "We have not talked about
 this on record and each week our focus has been just on the team we are
 playing."
 
 Those are some harsh words for a team that is one of just six unbeaten teams
 left in the country.
 
 Syracuse will be trying to do something Louisville has not had to deal with
 this season; bounce back from a loss. The Orange traveled to Nippert Stadium
 and were dropped 35-24 by Cincinnati to put Syracuse at 4-5 overall and 3-2 in
 conference play this season. The loss broke the longest winning streak of the
 season for Syracuse which was just two games. Despite losing that momentum the
 Orange are chomping at the bit for the chance to be the team that can put an
 end to Louisville's perfect season.
 
 "We know that they are a good team," Syracuse cornerback Ri'Shard Anderson
 said. "We know that they have good coaches. They don't want to get knocked off
 but it's a great opportunity for us to knock off a team where we don't have
 that opportunity all of the time. We are going to get out there. It's our last
 home game."
 
 This has been a rather even series all-time with Louisville holding just a
 slim 6-5 edge in 11 meetings, The Cardinals have traveled well in the series
 with a 3-2 record all-time in the Carrier Dome. Louisville has won three
 straight against the Orange, including a 27-10 win at home last season.
 
 He has not received the national acclaim that he perhaps deserves, but
 Bridgewater has been a consistent force for Louisville all season. He has
 shown composure whether his team is leading by one point or 20. Bridgewater
 has completed a conference-leading 70.4 percent of his passes this season for
 2,434 yards, 18 touchdowns and only four touchdowns. He is second in the
 conference in passing yards and leads the Big East in passer rating (170.0).
 Bridgewater was sensational against Temple throwing for 324 yards and five
 touchdowns on just 19 completions.
 
 The running combination of Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright got back on track
 in the win over Temple as well. The pair have rushed for a combined 1,354
 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns this season but had failed to run the ball
 effectively in the two previous weeks. However against Temple the two broke
 out with Wright finished with 100 yards and a touchdown and Perry adding 79
 yards. The Cardinals have 22 rushing touchdowns as a team which is the most by
 the Cardinals in a season since 2007.
 
 Bridgewater has excelled in spreading the ball around this season with nine
 different receivers having at least 10 receptions and four of those having at
 least 20. DeVante Parker (22 receptions, 509 yards, 5 TDs) has been the best
 big-play threat and leader in receiving yards.
 
 Strong is well aware of the challenges that his defense faces against the
 Orange who feature the top passer in the conference in Ryan Nassib. Still
 Strong isn't consumed by stopping the pass acknowledging Syracuse's strength
 in the ground as well.
 
 "Well, you look at them on offense; they are very balanced," Strong said.
 "They have a very good quarterback. They do a really good job of running and
 throwing the football."
 
 Regardless of what the focus is, Louisville will try to continue its upward
 trend in defense the last few weeks. The Cardinals are now the third best team
 in the conference in total defense (337.1 ypg) which is excellent news with a
 battle with the two top defenses in Connecticut and Rutgers on the horizon.
 
 Calvin Pryor (69) and Preston Brown (68) are each flirting with the 70-tackle
 mark for the season and will more than likely eclipse that against Syracuse.
 
 Syracuse has the great benefit of having a stellar quarterback under center as
 well. Nassib has really excelled in his senior season, throwing for a
 conference best 2,773 yards, while completing 63.3 percent of his passes.
 Nassib is in very select company on the national level, as one of only 15
 quarterbacks in the country to average at least 300 passing yards per game.
 
 The consistent play of his receivers has been a huge boost to Nassib's play.
 Posession-receiver extraordinaire Alec Lemon has hauled in 44 passes for 569
 yards and three scores this season. Lemon became the fifth player in Syracuse
 history to total 2,000 yards receiving in a career after pulling in seven
 passes for 101 yards last weekend. Lemon has not been the most productive
 receiver though. That honor belongs to Marcus Sales, who has team-highs in
 receptions (50), yards (722) and touchdowns (7). Jarrod West (37 receptions,
 523 yards) has also been a reliable target.
 
 Strong was right about the Syracuse offense though. There is strength in the
 running game as well. Jerome Smith has been the major source of that strength
 with 731 yards on 146 carries this season, both team-highs. Smith is more of a
 downhill runner, while Prince-Tyson Gulley (383 yards) provides a nice change
 of pace.
 
 While Syracuse may be able to go blow for blow with Louisville's offense, the
 defense is another matter. Syracuse is not one of the premier defenses in the
 conference (369.4 ypg) and is currently tied for second to last in the Big
 East in scoring defense (26.1 ppg). The Orange do have an advantage though in
 creating negative plays, as they lead the conference in tackles for loss (67)
 this season.
 
 Brandon Sharpe (!2.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) and Dyshawn Davis (50
 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss) have been the most dominant players in getting
 in the backfield and disrupting opponents' rhythm. Lead-tackler Shamarko
 Thomas (66) has done a bit of everything, with three tackles for loss, a pair
 of interceptions and three forced fumbles.
 
 
 
 
 
 11/07 11:36:21 ET