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NCAAF: RB Sean Tucker chases rushing title as Syracuse faces Louisville

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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

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