With a winning season no longer possible, the Louisville Cardinals looked to salvage what pride could be had and prepare for the future against Syracuse.
And while the Cards played rather poorly at times, it was still enough to shut the Orange out 30-0.
The Louisville football team that took the field in this matchup looked a lot different than the squad that lost to Virginia last week. Most notable was the loss of Javian Hawkins, the Cards’ star running back who announced Monday that he was ending his college career and preparing for the NFL draft.
The team would have to really on younger, less proven offensive backs. Fortunately they were going up against one of the worst offenses in college football in Syracuse. The Cards were hoping to hang on to the ball and avoid another embarrassing loss over a team they were heavily favored against.
The Cards actually scored first on a 50-yard field goal halfway through the first quarter.
Louisville had all the offense in the first half, kicking another field goal with a little over six minutes left to go in the second quarter to get a 6-0 lead. They then scored two-straight touchdowns on runs from Jalen Mitchell and Malik Cunningham as the half wound down.
The Cards gave the Orange plenty of opportunities to respond as Louisville still could not hold onto the ball, with three turnovers in the first half alone, all by Malik Cunningham.
While past opponents were able to converts similar mistakes to points, Syracuse was equally as inept. The Orange had three turnovers of their own.
Louisville wasn’t done scoring, as Cunningham connected with Tutu Atwell for a 19-yard touchdown pass. It was a welcome sight for the sore-eyed fans and coaches, who were worried Atwell might follow Hawkins into draft prep.
The Cards added another field goal early in the fourth quarter to make it 30-0.
Louisville yet again outgained their opponent. And this time converted those yards into a victory. And they did not turn the ball over in the second half.
Malik Cunningham passed for 19-28 for 219 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for 21 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.
Maurice Burkley was the teams leading rusher with 10 carries for 56 yards. Jalen Mitchell also ran for a touchdown.
Braden Smith caught seven passes for 65 yards. Tutu Atwell caught a touchdown pass.
Louisville moves to 3-6 for the season (2-6 ACC). Syracuse falls to 1-8 (1-7 ACC).
The Cards will spend Thanksgiving week in Louisville, playing their final home game of the year against Wake Forest on November 28.<