Nov 13, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Syracuse Orange linebacker Mikel Jones (3) tackles Louisville Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville stifles Syracuse in 41-3 rout

Malik Cunningham threw four touchdowns and ran for another as host Louisville took control in the second quarter and rolled to a 41-3 rout of Syracuse on Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinals posted an easy victory on the day 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson’s jersey was retired at haltime. Jackson joined Johnny Unitas as the second Louisville player to earn the honor.

When it came time for the retirement of Jackson’s No. 8 jersey, the Cardinals held a 35-3 lead, thanks to the efforts of Cunningham.

Cunningham, who was sidelined for part of the second half during last week’s loss to Clemson due to an ankle injury, scored on a 6-yard TD run with 9:13 remaining in the first quarter and then threw four touchdown passes before halftime.

He connected with Tyler Harrell on a 33-yard TD late in the first quarter and then found Ahmari Huggins-Bruce for TDs of 6 and 17 yards respectively. Huggins-Bruce’s TDs were sandwiched between a 41-yard TD pass to Jordan Watkins.

Cunningham completed 13 of 18 passes for 209 yards on a day when he rushed for a season-low 19 yards as Louisville’s offense totaled 382 yards and converted 17 first downs.

Two field goals from James Turner accounted for the other points as the Cardinals (5-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored at least 40 points for the second time this season and won for the second time in six games to move within one win of becoming bowl-eligible.

Cunningham also had help from Louisville’s defense, which bottled up Syracuse running back Sean Tucker and the Orange’s rushing attack, which entered the game leading the ACC with 247.7 rushing yards per game. Tucker entered the game at 1,267 rushing yards, which trailed Michigan State Kenneth Walker III’s by 63 yards.

Tucker was held to 95 yards and narrowly missed his eighth straight 100-yard game.

Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader was 10-for-18 for 46 yards. He also rushed 20 times for 43 yards and was sacked four times

Syracuse (5-5, 2-4) was unable to win a third straight game and unable to become bowl-eligible after going a combined 6-17 in the previous two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) breaks free from the Boston College Eagles defense in the fourth quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

RB Sean Tucker chases rushing title as Syracuse faces Louisville

A bye week afforded Syracuse star running back Sean Tucker a chance to relax, but it also saw him lose some ground to Michigan State standout Kenneth Walker III for the national rushing title.

Tucker is coming off his most productive game of the season and seeks an eighth straight 100-yard game Saturday afternoon as the Orange visit the Louisville Cardinals and attempt to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2018.

Tucker enters the final three games with 1,267 rushing yards, which trails Walker by 73 yards nationally. Tucker has eight 100-yard rushing games this season and totaled 207 yards on the ground when Syracuse overcame some early sluggishness in a 21-6 home win over Boston College two weeks ago.

“Sean knows what to do, it’s just making sure that he stays locked in and very seldom is he not,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said at his press conference Monday.

Against Boston College, Syracuse scored all its points in the third quarter when Tucker’s 51-yard TD run preceded a 48-yard touchdown run by quarterback Garrett Shrader and a 64-yard punt return by Courtney Jackson. The Orange scored their points in a span of 4:53 while gaining 293 yards on the ground after playing five straight games decided by five points or less.

Syracuse (5-4, 2-3 ACC) leads the ACC in rushing at 247.7 yards per game and has three chances to get its sixth win to clinch a bowl bid after going a combined 6-17 in the previous two seasons. If the Orange do not beat Louisville, their remaining games are against North Carolina State and Pittsburgh, which were ranked 19th and 25th respectively last week in the playoff rankings.

“It’s a very difficult task,” Baber said. “The three teams we have to play are outstanding.”

Louisville (4-5, 2-4) is looking for a strong finish to also get a chance at becoming bowl eligible. The Cardinals were 3-1 after their 31-23 win at Florida State on Sept. 25, but are 1-4 since with losses to Wake Forest, Virginia, NC State and Clemson.

Louisville is third in the ACC at 205.0 rushing yards per contest.

Quarterback Malik Cunningham leads the league with 15 rushing TDs and had two on Saturday, but the Cardinals allowed 13 points in the fourth quarter following Cunningham’s 51-yard TD run and took a 30-24 loss to Clemson.

“The guys are resilient,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “They just keep battling. At some point. I told them, ‘We’re really close, and at some point we’re going to get over the hump and you are going to start winning these games.’”

Cunningham also injured his ankle in the third quarter but returned in the fourth and got Louisville deep in the red zone before stumbling on a roll-out on fourth-and-goal with 10 seconds left.

“He took it hard, as we all did, but he’s doing good,” Satterfield said. “He’s in a much better place now.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Dino Babers looks on against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Garrett Shrader leads Syracuse past Virginia Tech

Garrett Shrader hit Damien Alford for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds remaining to give Syracuse a 41-36 win over Virginia Tech in an Atlantic Coast Conference game on Saturday at Blacksburg, Va.

Syracuse trailed 36-27 late in the game, but cut Virginia Tech’s lead to 36-34 on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Shrader to Courtney Jackson with 2:28 remaining.

After forcing a Virginia Tech punt, Syracuse (4-4, 1-3) got the ball back, converted a fourth-and-4 from its own 36-yard-line, and then won the game on Shrader’s pass to Alford.

Shrader accounted for five touchdowns in the game, going 16-of-34 passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.

Malachi Thomas rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries in defeat for Virginia Tech (3-4, 1-2).

Syracuse took a 27-26 lead with 13:35 remaining on a 3-yard touchdown run by Shrader, but Virginia Tech regained the lead at 29-27 with 10:54 left on a 33-yard field goal by John Parker Romo.

The Hokies then extended their lead to 36-27 with 5:36 left on a 47-yard touchdown run by Thomas.

Trailing 19-13 in the third quarter, Syracuse took a 20-19 lead on a 21-yard touchdown run by Shrader with 11:13 remaining in the third.

The Hokies responded, taking a 26-20 lead with 6:52 left in the third on a 2-yard touchdown run by Thomas.

Virginia Tech went up 14-7 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Thomas with 14:02 to go in the second quarter.

Toward the end of the second, Syracuse closed within 14-13 on a 9-yard touchdown run by Shrader with 1:54 left in the second quarter, which capped off an 11-play, 98-yard drive.

But Virginia Tech’s Chamarri Conner blocked the extra point, which was returned all the way for two points by Dorian Strong to make it 16-13 Hokies.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Improving Syracuse takes on middling Virginia Tech in ACC matchup

Syracuse and host Virginia Tech enter Saturday’s ACC contest coming off losses, but the Orange and Hokies likely have different vibes from those defeats.

Syracuse has a feeling that it’s close to a breakthrough.

In the past two weeks, the Orange have suffered a 40-37 overtime loss to then-No. 19 Wake Forest and a 17-14 home loss to Clemson.

Despite being 3-4 for the season and 0-3 in Atlantic Division play, the Orange might be building some confidence.

“It’s exciting and it’s disappointing at the same time based on what happens with the scores,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “But I like this group. I’m not going to trade them in. I’ll keep them. We’ll put them in the oven, and when we get through baking, we’re going to have something that’s really exciting.”

Syracuse is led offensively by the ACC’s top rusher, Sean Tucker, who is 52 yards from reaching the 1,000-yard mark this season.

Tucker has rushed for 948 yards and nine touchdowns on 155 attempts (6.1 per-carry average) and has rushed for 100 yards or more in five straight games.

On the other side, Virginia Tech comes in reeling a little more following an uninspiring 28-7 home loss to Pitt last week.

The Hokies struggled with the ball, amassing just 224 yards of total offense.

Quarterback Braxton Burmeister went just 11-of-32 passing for 134 yards as Virginia Tech couldn’t follow up on a solid performance from the week prior in a 32-29 loss to Notre Dame.

Now 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the Coastal Division, Virginia Tech already is at a crisis point, with some saying that coach Justin Fuente is on the hot seat.

The Hokies are 22-21 in their past 43 games since 2018.

“It’s my responsibility, and it’s my job, to get us as good as we can play, whatever that level is,” Fuente said. “At times this season, we’ve hit that level.”

This will be the first meeting between the teams since 2016, a matchup Syracuse won 31-17.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (16) avoids Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Luke Masterson (12) during the second half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Unranked but hardly toothless, Clemson visits Syracuse on Friday

Despite the fact that Clemson has lost two regular-season games and has been dropped from the Top 25 for the first time since 2014, Syracuse coach Dino Babers scoffs at the notion that the Tigers are anything less than formidable.

“What have they got — about 150 stars over there?” said Babers, whose team plays host to Clemson in a nationally televised game Friday night on ESPN. “And now you’re saying that they’re no good? That’s the Clemson Tigers over there, man. Come on. Sheesh.

“Clemson has the best personnel in the conference. Clemson always has the best personnel in the conference. If it’s going to change, it’s going to take a while.”

Clemson (3-2, 2-1 ACC) has lost to two ranked teams — a 10-3 decision to now-top-ranked Georgia on Sept. 4 and a 27-21 double-overtime defeat at No. 22 N.C. State on Sept. 25.

Syracuse (3-3, 0-2) remains winless in league play, but their two setbacks have both been by three points, including a 40-37 overtime loss against unbeaten Wake Forest on Saturday.

“They’re not much different than us — they’re two plays from being 5-1,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We’re talking about last-play, overtime games that have gone down to the wire.

“Syracuse is a team that’s playing really tough on both sides of the ball. They’ve got a lot of experience. We’re trying to accomplish something we haven’t done, and that’s win on the road this year. It’s a huge challenge, a tough place to play.”

Swinney knows that all too well. In 2017, Syracuse stunned a No. 2-ranked Clemson team 27-24 on a Friday night in the Carrier Dome, prompting a post-game visit to the Orange locker room from Swinney.

“Last time we beat them he came in and spoke to the team, which I thought was really cool,” Babers said. “Our relationship is good. I think he does it the right way. I like his values. I like what his kids stand for. You can see he does a good job of raising young men.”

The Tigers’ loss of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne as well as their top two receivers to the NFL has led to some offensive struggles this season. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, who shined in two games as a replacement for Lawrence last season, has struggled, ranking last in the ACC in passing efficiency.

Clemson’s offense ranks last in the ACC in scoring at 20.0 points per game, but the Tigers’ defense is first in the league, allowing only 11.5 points per game.

That defense could be challenged by the Orange, who have an emerging star in running back Sean Tucker, who leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 165.8 per game.

“He’s special,” Swinney said. “He’s explosive, he’s fast, got great vision and power in the hole, got great change of direction.”

Swinney said he also is impressed by Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader, who accounted for 338 yards of total offense — 160 passing with two TDs and 178 rushing with another touchdown in the overtime loss to Wake Forest.

“This guy can run,” Swinney said of the transfer from Mississippi State, who became the starter just three weeks ago. “Sometimes I think they just tell everybody to go deep and then he just runs. He’s breaking tackles. If you’re not on point with this guy, it’s 40 yards, because he can run away from you.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson (5) catches the ball as Syracuse Orange defensive back Jason Simmons (14) defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Wake Forest edges Syracuse in overtime

Sam Hartman’s third touchdown pass of the game to A.T. Perry went for 22 yards, giving No. 19 Wake Forest a 40-37 overtime victory against host Syracuse on Saturday.

Wake Forest (6-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) is the ACC’s only unbeaten team.

The Orange scored first in overtime on Andre Szmytz’s 38-yard field goal. The Demon Deacons won it on their second play of the extra session.

Syracuse (3-3, 0-2) forced overtime on Garrett Shrader’s 28-yard pass to Sean Tucker with 21 seconds left in regulation.

Christian Beal-Smith ran for a 10-yard touchdown with 3:28 remaining, and the Demon Deacons converted a two-point conversion on Hartman’s pass to Jaquarii Roberson for a 34-27 edge.

Ja’Sir Taylor then recovered a Syracuse fumble, but the Orange got the ball back and moved 94 yards in 11 plays to tie the score.

The Orange had defeated Wake Forest in 2019 in overtime.

Hartman, who threw for 330 yards and the three TDs on Saturday, and Perry connected for two long touchdown plays earlier in the game.

Perry had 137 yards on his three receptions, and Roberson finished with 135 receiving yards on nine catches.

Wake Forest overcame big rushing outings from Shrader (178 yards on 29 carries) and Tucker (153/26). Shrader also threw for two touchdowns.

Syracuse, which lost for the second week in a row, had a chance to expand a one-point lead, but Szmyt missed a 45-yard field-goal attempt with 7:13 left.

Earlier in the half, Hartman’s 69-yard scoring pass to Perry had given the Demon Deacons a 26-21 lead at the 4:32 mark of the third quarter.

Tucker’s 14-yard run enabled the Orange to regain the lead.

Shrader, who gained 111 rushing yards in the first half, ran for a 5-yard touchdown to finish a 10-play drive in the second quarter. He ran for 31 yards on the drive, which resulted in the Orange going up 21-10.

Hartman’s 1-yard run with 48 seconds left in the half closed the gap.

Syracuse had raced to a 14-3 lead, with Shrader’s 24-yard pass to Anthony Queeley coming on the second play of the second quarter. Earlier, Tucker ran 6 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

Wake Forest opened the scoring on Nick Sciba’s 22-yard field goal. The Demon Deacons’ first touchdown came on their fourth possession when Hartman connected with Perry on a 46-yard play.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2020; Syracuse, NY, USA;  Syracuse Orange wide receiver Taj Harris (3) after a reception in the first half during a game against Liberty on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
 Mandatory Credit: Dennis Nett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse WR Taj Harris entering transfer portal

Syracuse wide receiver Taj Harris is entering the transfer portal.

The junior made the announcement on Twitter on Sunday and Orange coach Dino Babers confirmed it Monday.

An All-ACC third-team selection in 2020, Harris has two years of eligibility remaining.

Harris did not travel with the team for Saturday’s 33-30 loss at Florida State.

He caught 16 passes for 171 yards in three games this season, raising his career totals to 151 receptions for 2,028 yards and 10 touchdowns since 2018.

Syracuse (3-2, 0-1 ACC) hosts No. 19 Wake Forest (5-0, 3-0) on Saturday afternoon.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (16) leaps over the line of scrimmage to score a touchdown against the Liberty Flames in the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Szmyt boots last-second FG to lift Syracuse past Liberty

Andre Szmyt kicked a 35-yard field goal as time expired, lifting Syracuse to a dramatic 24-21 victory over visiting Liberty on Friday night.

The Orange (3-1) needed Szmyt’s game-winner after blowing a pair of 14-point leads and the kick was set up by a terrific defensive sequence when Liberty appeared to have the momentum.

With 3:35 remaining at the Liberty 37, Flames quarterback Malik Willis was flushed out of the pocket. Syracuse lineman Cody Roscoe chopped the ball out and the fumble was recovered by linebacker Mikel Jones at the Liberty 30.

Syracuse running back Sean Tucker gained 168 yards on a career-high 31 carries and also had a touchdown. Tucker also finished with 195 yards of total offense as Syracuse totaled 225 yards on the ground.

Garrett Shrader made his first start for Syracuse and completed 6-of-15 passes for 77 yards and also had a pair of TD runs.

Willis was 14 of 19 for 205 yards and three TDs but also was sacked six times. Willis also rushed for 50 yards on 16 attempts as the Flames (3-1) lost for only the second time in its past 17 games.

Shrader’s 1-yard leap over the middle with 13:40 remaining in the second quarter capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive to give the Orange a 7-0 lead. Tucker’s 27-yard run down the left side opened a 14-0 lead with 9:51 remaining in the second quarter.

The Liberty got within 14-7 when Willis connected with Shedro Louis for a 7-yard TD with 93 seconds remaining but Syracuse opened a 21-7 lead with 9:46 remaining in the third when Shrader faked a handoff and rushed up the middle for a 10-yard score.

Liberty finally got a drive going and was within 21-14 on a 23-yard TD by CJ Daniels, who just stayed in bounds with 2:57 remaining.

The Flames tied it at 21-all 29 seconds into the fourth when Willis connected with DeMario Douglas for a 33-yard strike. Liberty nearly took its first lead but Douglas’ 4-yard TD was overturned via replay and Syracuse’s defense stuffed Willis on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball in front of Albany Great Danes defensive back Tyler Carswell (2) on his way to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Tucker, Syracuse aim to solve Liberty defense

Sean Tucker produced a terrific performance for Syracuse on the ground and in the passing lanes, but the second-year running back and the rest of the Orange are about to encounter a step up in the opposing defense.

The Orange lost at home last year to Liberty and hope to figure out a way to solve one of the most effective defenses in the FBS on Friday night when the teams square off in Syracuse.

Syracuse (2-1) owns wins over Ohio and FCS foe Albany sandwiched around a 17-7 loss to Rutgers. Tucker heads into Friday with 367 yards and six touchdowns on the ground to go along with seven catches and 148 yards and a TD.

Five of those TDs occurred Saturday when Syracuse cruised to a 62-24 rout of Albany. Tucker is up to 993 career rushing yards in his first 12 games and last week he totaled 253 total yards (121 receiving, 132 rushing), becoming the first player to rush for at least 100 yards and have 100 receiving yards in school history.

“It was just seeing a lot of my O-line blocking,” Tucker said. “They were blocking hard all game and giving me opportunities to get to the second level and just run by everyone.”

Tucker gained 111 yards last season when Liberty beat Syracuse 38-21, and this time he encounters a defense that is eighth nationally in yards allowed per game (234), 12th in points allowed (12.3 per game) and 10th in rushing yards per game (53.5).

Liberty (3-0) sandwiched a pair of routs around a 21-13 win at Troy and is led by Malik Willis, who threw for four touchdowns and completed 21 of 28 passes for 242 yards and rushed nine times for 77 yards in Saturday’s 45-17 win over Old Dominion.

“To this point this year, probably so (that it was his best game so far this season),” Liberty coach Hugh Freeze said. “He took two sacks that he should have thrown the ball away on. Other than that, I thought he was pretty dang good.”

So far this year, Willis has totaled 838 yards of offense (613 passing/225 rushing) and 11 TDs (seven passing/four rushing). In last year’s win over Syracuse, Willis completed 16 of 20 passes for 182 yards and also rushed 12 times for 58 yards.

The Flames are 13-1 in their past 14 games and 21-6 since a 24-0 loss to Syracuse in their 2019 season opener.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball past the tackle attempt of Albany Great Danes defensive back Tyler Carswell (2) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Tucker scores five TDs as Syracuse smokes Albany

Sean Tucker scored a career-high five touchdowns and totaled a career-best 253 yards of offense as host Syracuse cruised to a 62-24 rout of Albany on Saturday afternoon to remain unbeaten against FCS opponents.

Tucker had three catches for 121 yards and gained 132 yards on 13 carries. He caught a 72-yard TD and rushed for his other four TDs, including a career-long 56-yard score.

The Orange (2-1) bounced back from a 17-7 loss to Rutgers last week and improved to 19-0 against FCS teams.

Syracuse held a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes in, led 21-10 after the opening quarter and built a 45-10 lead by halftime against the Great Danes (0-3).

Tucker scored on runs of 8 and 56 yards in the first quarter. The sophomore running back caught a 72-yard TD in the second and added a 12-yard TD before halftime.

Tucker got his final touchdown when he raced in from 26 yards out less than three minutes into the third quarter.

Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito started the game before being replaced by Garrett Shrader. DeVito completed 6 of 9 passes for 147 yards while Shrader was 11-for-15 for 190 yards.

The Orange played without leading receiver Taj Harris due to an undisclosed injury and saw nine players catch a pass on a day in which they totaled 623 yards of offense.

Albany quarterback Jeff Undercuffler completed 7 of 13 passes for 69 yards and was sacked five times before being replaced by Joey Carino, who had a touchdown pass and a touchdown run. The Danes finished with 135 yards of offense

Tucker opened the scoring with 9:57 remaining in the first quarter and then rumbled for 56 yards to make it 14-0 nearly 3 1/2 minutes later. After Albany scored on a 37-field goal by Dylan Burns and 20-yard interception return by defensive back Christian Lewis, the Orange scored the game’s next 48 points.

Alford’s 73-yard catch made it 21-10 with 2:07 left in the first quarter and Andre Szmyt booted a 48-yard field goal early in the second.

–Field Level Media