- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Syracuse leads Louisville 17-14 after an entertaining and surprisingly high-scoring first half.
The Cardinals led 14-7 late in the first quarter, but the Orange made some nice adjustments to the Louisville defensive pressure in the second quarter. Louisville was getting to Ryan Nassib with a lot of blitzing up the middle, but Syracuse finally started picking it up and pounded the ball on the ground in a 12-play, 70-yard touchdown drive.
And it was pressure by the Orange that led to the go-ahead score. Defensive end Mikhail Marinovich came in unblocked and drilled quarterback Justin Burke, knocking the ball free near the Louisville 20 late in the half. Syracuse cashed in with a short field goal.
As Doug Marrone said this week, these teams are evenly matched. Syracuse has done a great job of slowing down the Big East's best rushing offense as Louisville tailbacks have produced 56 yards on 10 carries in the half. Of course, it hurts that Bilal Powell isn't playing.
The Orange found some running room of their own in the second quarter, and Delone Carter already has 78 yards.
Both teams are playing a physical style and applying lots of pressure defensively, which could lead to some big plays in the second half. Syracuse is 30 minutes away from clinching its first bowl bid since 2004.
19hDavid M. Hale