Week 2 College Football Picks: Louisville Cardinals at Syracuse Orange

Reggie Bonnafon and the Louisville Cardinals are 15-point Week 2 favorites over Syracuse.
Reggie Bonnafon (2 catches for 33 yards in Week 1) and the Louisville Cardinals are 15-point Week 2 favorites over Syracuse.

Louisville – Syracuse
Time: 8 PM ET
Spread: LOU -15
M/L: LOU -720, SYR +510
Total: 69

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

LOUISVILLE

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson went for a school-record eight TDs in Louisville’s 70-14 drubbing of Charlotte in Week 1. Jackson threw 17 of 23 for 286 yards with six passing TDs and an additional two rushing TDs to go with 119 yards on 11 carries, including a long of 36 yards. Jackson was by all means dominant, but can he continue the strong play against Syracuse in Week 2?

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Louisville was all over Charlotte early last week, taking a 28-0 lead after the first quarter and a 56-0 blowout at just the half. The Cardinals caught 26 passes for 391 yards with eight players catching two passes or more in the bonanza. Jamari Staples caught four passes for 83 yards. The Cardinals also generated 7.8 yards per rushing attempt, racking up 272 yards on 35 carries, including Malik Williams and Malin Jones both carrying 14 times between them for 78 yards total.

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The Louisville Cardinals could surprise this season, and if they do it will be on the strength of dual-threat QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson ran for 960 yards and 11 TDs last season, and he had 226 yards and two TDs in the bowl win over Texas A&M.

Even so, his passing accuracy lingered at 54.6 percent, a mark that will have to hike up if the Cardinals are to rely on him as a dual-threat ignitor to its offense. He threw 24 of 29 for eight TDs in the spring game, which is either an indicator he’s made a lot of progress or a sign of how poor the defense was—is there any way to tell?

SYRACUSE

The Syracuse Orange finished 2015 with a 4-8 mark, but new head coach Dino Babers will be making some major changes in the offense. Babers will be installing the same spread offense he used at Bowling Green, which should help things flow and help the Orange start getting down the field. Last season, Syracuse mustered just 319.9 yards per game, ranking No. 118 in the nation.

The Orange return QB Eric Dungey, a capable dual-threat player who started the final seven games last season. The No. 1 RB is Donate Strickland who leaped Jordan Fredericks in the depth chart in spring play. Strickland is a 5’11” 195 pound spark plug who should able to break free and make some plays. At WR, Syracuse will again turn to returning junior Steve Ishmael as its No. 1 option. He has great hands and works hard, and with a healthy Dungey he should be able to have a big season.

Syracuse won Week 1 over Colgate 33-7. Orange QB Eric Dungey threw 34 of 40 for completion for 355 yards, two TDs and a QB rating of 89.5. Backup Zach Mahoney also threw 6 of 6 for another 82 yards, as Syracuse managed 437 total passing yards and 117 yards rushing. Moe Nela had 68 yards on nine carries with a TD, and Amba Etta-Tawo had 12 catches for 210 yards with a TD. Ervin Phillips had 14 catches for 87 yards and a TD, as the Orange managed 40 total receptions in the game.

The Orange defense frustrated Colgate QB Jake Melville who completed just 10 of 22 for 82 yards and Colgate was limited to 45 yards on 32 carries.

Orange head coach Dino Babers said his main concern with Louisville in Week 2 is “all the defensive speed they have and offensive speed they have.” Surely paramount in that concern is what Jackson did in Week 1. The Orange are going to be challenged by Louisville’s fast paced offense, and Dungey is going to have to really move the football to keep the underdog Orange in this game.

College football oddsmakers have set it more than two-TDs in favor of Louisville, who faces Florida State in Week 3. Securing the probable victory is a must if the Cardinals are going to have a shot at making run past a tough nationally ranked Seminoles team next week.

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