New Era Pinstripe Bowl – West Virginia vs. Syracuse
In what would have been a Big East matchup in previous years, West Virginia (7-5) takes on Syracuse (7-5) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl played at Yankee Stadium in New York. These two teams played every year for the last six decades until West Virginia picked up and moved to the Big 12 – a move that did not pay off in 2012. The renewal of this rivalry in postseason play could be one of the higher scoring games of the bowl season with odds makers setting the total at 73.
It’s been an up and down season for West Virginia who started the season 5-0 behind the phenomenal play of QB Geno Smith. Smith was the clear frontrunner for the Heisman trophy after the first five weeks of the season, but his play slowed a bit midway through the season when the Mountaineers lost five straight, though that was largely the fault of one of the worst defenses in the nation. Syracuse quietly had a nice season after starting off slowly with non-conference losses to Northwestern, USC and Minnesota. The Orange finished with wins in 5 of their last 6 including a blowout win against #9 Louisville.
It will be interesting to see if the Yankee Stadium scoreboard can keep up with the numbers these two teams are capable of putting up. West Virginia is stacked on offense while running a high temp spread attack that leaves even viewers at home out of breath. Aside from Geno Smith, who needs no introduction, the Mountaineers sport two all-world receivers in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. The trio of Smith, Austin and Bailey has led the West Virginia offense to roll up over 518 yards per game and over 41 points per contest.
While most fans don’t usually think of Syracuse as an upper level offensive team, that’s exactly what they’ve been this season especially in the second half of the year. QB Ryan Nassib set a school record for passing yards in a season (3,619) while tossing 24 TDs against just 9 interceptions. Nassib is joined by WR Alec Lemon (1063 yards, 7 TDs) and RB Jerome Smith (1019 yards, 3 TDs).
The big story in this game, as has been the case all season for West Virginia, is can the Mountaineers stop anyone on defense. West Virginia has allowed the most points in school history this season and has not shown any sign of improvement. The Mountaineers will get their points, but can they get enough to outscore Syracuse?
What will happen: An excellent offense (WVU) against an average Syracuse defense and an above average offense (Cuse) against a horrific West Virginia defense. The Orange have the ability to make a big play or two on defense to turn the tide in the game. Take the points.
Prediction: Syracuse 48 West Virginia 38
The Play: Syracuse +4
Bowl Game ATS Record: 0-2
YTD Record: 18-16