SYRACUSE The stakes are high for both the Syracuse and Louisville football teams in todays Big East matchup at the Carrier Dome.
The Orange (4-5 overall, 3-2 conference) needs to win two of its final three games to be eligible for a bowl game, and will be on the road for its next two to close out the year.
The nationally ranked No. 10/11 Cardinals (9-0, 4-0) need a win to keep any chance of playing for the national championship alive, and to remain in the drivers seat for the Big East title.
Kickoff is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on ABC. It is Syracuses homecoming game and senior day, the last home game in the careers of 15 SU seniors.
You know whats at stake, you know were trying to get to a bowl game and we need two more wins, senior wide receiver Alec Lemon said. The fact that its our last home game in the Dome this season, everyone gets amped up and I feel that everyone is going to be ready for this game.
Louisville, off to its best start in program history, is ranked ninth in the Bowl Championship Series standings, and is one of six unbeaten teams left in the nation. It is tied with Rutgers for first place in the conference, both at 4-0.
Theyre a great team, nobody has come close to beating them this year except Cincinnati. So we have a chance to go out and shock the nation, Syracuse senior receiver Marcus Sales said.
If Syracuse is to shock the nation, as Sales said, it will need fifth-year senior quarterback Ryan Nassib to get the better of an intriguing quarterback matchup with Louisvilles Teddy Bridgewater.
Nassib ranks in the top 15 nationally in completions per game, passing yards per game, and total offense per game, while leading the Big Easts top-ranked passing offense.
Bridgewater has been more about efficiency, ranking sixth in the nation with a 70.4 completion percentage. He has 18 touchdown passes to just four interceptions.
He has also spread the ball around to a variety of weapons. The Cardinals have six players with at least 15 receptions, and four with at least 20.
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, who is 0-3 against Louisville in his SU tenure, called Bridgewater the best quarterback that his team has faced to this point in the season.
He has really gotten a lot better, he really has. He can extend plays and still keep his eyes down field, Marrone said.
The tougher the situation gets for him, the more calm and relaxed he is. I think thats a trait that everyone looks for in a quarterback, he added.
Another key for the Orange will be getting its run defense back on track against a balanced Louisville backfield.
After allowing an average of just 34 net rushing yards in its first three conference games, Syracuse gave up 369 to South Florida and 263 to Cincinnati in the last two weeks.
Louisvilles running back duo of Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright combine for 150 yards per game and 20 total touchdowns.
Perry has provided 703 yards and 11 scores, while Wrights contributions are 651 yards and nine touchdowns.
■ Marrone gave the Orange a clean bill of health for the first time all year on Thursday.
Goal-line back Adonis Ameen-Moore and versatile freshman running back Ashton Broyld are both expected to be ready to play today after missing last Saturdays game at Cincinnati with injuries.
Ameen-Moore also missed the previous game against South Florida.