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September 22, 2007
Orange pulls off stunning upset
LOUISVILLE, Ky.(AP) Andrew Robinson threw for a career-high 423 yards and four touchdowns as Syracuse stunned No. 18 Louisville 38-35 on Saturday.
Taj Smith caught four passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns for the Orange (1-3, 1-0 Big East) as Syracuse ended Louisville's 20-game home winning streak by dominating the listless Cardinals (2-2, 0-1).
The victory was Syracuse's first road conference win and first victory over a ranked team since beating Boston College at the end of the 2004 season.
Brian Brohm completed 45-of-65 passes for a career-high 555 yards and four scores for Louisville, but the Cardinals' defense allowed Syracuse - which entered the game ranked near the bottom nationally in every offensive category - to pile up 465 yards and make big play after big play.
Syracuse, a 36 1/2 point underdog, built a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter before trying to make it interesting late. The Orange turned the ball over twice in the final minutes allowing Louisville to get within three with 56 seconds left.
The ensuing onside kick, however, failed to go 10 yards and the Orange held on.
Following a last-second meltdown in a loss to arch rival Kentucky, the Cardinals spent all week talking about improving communication on a defense that ranked among the worst in the country.
It didn't work.
Syracuse needed just one play to take the lead as Robinson hit Smith for a 79-yard touchdown. The play was symptomatic of Louisville's defensive struggles all season, as Smith found himself all alone at midfield with no Louisville player within 10 yards when he caught the ball, allowing him to run free to the end zone.
It didn't get much better for the Cardinals.
Syracuse built a 21-7 lead at the half behind a 93-yard kickoff return by Max Suter and a 42-yard pass from Anderson to little-used wide receiver Da'Mon Merkerson. Syracuse had 234 yards of total offense in the first half, 35 more than the Orange had been averaging for an entire game.
Louisville, which entered the game leading the country in yards per game, had little trouble moving the ball, but had several drives sputter in Syracuse territory and turned the ball over four times.
Every time Louisville appeared ready to stage a comeback, the Orange responded. Brohm hit Douglas for a 35-yard score in the third quarter to pull within 21-14, but Robinson hit Smith on a delayed screen, and he broke a couple of tackles on his way to a 60-yard touchdown.
Brohm hit Gary Barnidge for a 2-yard touchdown to get back within 10 early in the fourth quarter, but Robinson calmly led the Orange right back down the field.
Robinson consistently found wide-open receivers running free in Louisville's reeling secondary. He averaged nearly 25 yards a completion and seemed unfazed by Louisville's pressure. Facing third and 5 at the Louisville 17, Robinson found Mike Williams underneath, and he slipped into the end zone to put it out of reach.
Syracuse's 38 points were more than the Orange had in the first three games of the season combined (32).
Syracuse's defense, which had taken its share of lumps, did enough to make Robinson's heroics stand up. Though they allowed Louisville to rack up 628 yards of total offense, they recovered two fumbles and picked Brohm off twice.
Louisville's troubles extended beyond the defense. The Cardinals committed 12 penalties for 105 yards, had punts of 11 and seven yards and were booed heavily by the sellout crowd, most of which headed for the exits with plenty of time left on the clock.