LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Malik Cunningham threw for four of his five first-half touchdowns, and Louisville’s defense stifled Syracuse throughout a 41-3 rout on Saturday that snapped a two-game losing streak.
A day in which Louisville retired the No. 8 jersey of 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson at halftime, the game featured Cunningham showing the same dynamic play of his famous predecessor.
The junior quarterback provided all the scoring for the Cardinals (5-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) before the ceremony with a 6-yard run on their first possession before tossing a series of TD passes.
Cunningham’s first was a perfect 33-yard toss to Tyler Harrell — one of two Cardinals wearing No. 8 for the time being — before he followed with a 6-yarder to Ahmari Huggins-Bruce, the first of two he caught. Jordan Watkins pulled in a 41-yarder in the back of the end zone before Huggins-Bruce took in another from 17 yards just before the break.
Cunningham finished 13 of 18 passing for 209 yards before exiting early in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Louisville’s defense bottled up Syracuse (5-5, 2-4) and its high-powered offensive tandem of Sean Tucker, the nation’s second-leading rusher, and quarterback Garrett Shrader. Tucker gained 95 yards on 19 carries, while Shrader was sacked four times in throwing for just 46 yards.
Louisville outgained Syracuse 382-184.
Syracuse: The Orange looked to become bowl eligible but never got untracked on either side of the ball. Their defense couldn’t contain Cunningham or Louisville’s other skill players and the offense struggled to move the ball. The Orange failed on its first seven third-down chances and finished 3 of 14 overall. The low point was Shrader fumbling away a fourth-down snap at the Louisville 2 in the third quarter.
Louisville: No discussion about fourth-quarter collapses this week as the Cardinals moved at will against the Orange. They scored on five of their first six possessions while their defense overwhelmed Syracuse throughout.
Syracuse visits No. 21 North Carolina State on Saturday.
Louisville visits Duke on Thursday in its ACC season finale.