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2012 Pinstripe - Syracuse 38, West Va 14

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 29, 2012


2012-2013 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2012 New Era Pinstripe

2012 New Era Pinstripe

Syracuse 38, West Virginia 14

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central

- CFN Thoughts and Analysis on the New Era Pinstripe Bowl

National Rankings
S W
21st Total Offense 8th
50th Total Defense 107th
60th Scoring Offense 7th
52nd Scoring Defense 114th
52nd Rushing Offense 39th
47th Run Defense 39th
21st Passing Offense 6th
62nd Passing Defense 119th
62nd Turnover Margin 35th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
S   W
5 Quarterbacks 5
3.5 RBs 4
4 Receivers 5
4 O Line 3.5
3 D Line 3
3 Linebackers 3
2 Secondary 1
3 Spec Teams 3
3.5 Coaching 3.5
(AP) NEW YORK -- The weather made passing at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl perilous, so Syracuse sent Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith dashing through West Virginia and the snow.

Gulley ran for a career-best 208 yards and had three touchdowns, Smith added 157 yards, and the Orange bid a blustery farewell to the Big East with a 38-14 victory over West Virginia on Saturday.

Syracuse (8-5) will enter the Atlantic Coast Conference on a roll after finishing this season with six wins in its last seven games, capped by its second postseason victory at Yankee Stadium in the last three years.

In a bowl game played in a baseball stadium with weather better suited for a playoff game in Green Bay, the team that plays in a dome ended up being better equipped to handle the elements.

"The football Gods brought snow," said Smith, who carried a season-high 30 times. "The football Gods from Syracuse brought us some snow and it changed even West Virginia's game. They had to run a little bit more than they were used to. We ran the ball a little bit more than we're used to and did what we were supposed to do."

Syracuse finished with a season-high 369 yards on the ground and beat its former Big East rival from West Virginia, now playing in the Big 12, for a third straight time.

"They just did a better job than us at the line of scrimmage," Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. "To be in a game like this when you've got to rely on your run defense to help you win and you're not able to do it, it's frustrating."

Geno Smith connected with Stedman Bailey for two touchdown passes for West Virginia (7-6), but the Mountaineers' quarterback also was sacked in the end zone in the first half and called for intentional grounding in the end zone in the third quarter to give Syracuse a second safety.

Smith, who was an early Heisman Trophy front-runner as the Mountaineers got off to a 5-0 start this season, was 16 for 26 for 197 yards in the final game of his record-breaking career. The NFL awaits.

Same goes for Ryan Nassib, though Syracuse didn't ask much of its talented senior quarterback. He threw two touchdown passes and an interception. His most impressive feat on this day was surviving being driven into the cold turf by Terence Garvin on a sack in the first half. Nassib missed only one play.

"It's my last game, man, nothing's going to take me out," he said.

Snow fell just about all game, giving most of the field a white dusting. Fans were bundled and players not in the game tried to do the same. It took a while for those potent offenses -- both ranked in the top 25 nationally in yards per game -- to heat up, which seemed appropriate considering the conditions.

"Cold. Cold," said Smith, a junior from Delaware. "I never got a chance to play in the snow, but it was good."

His running mate from Akron, Ohio, had just a bit more experience playing in wintry weather.

"In pee-wees I played in some (snow) like this but not in high school," said Gulley, who carried 25 times. "It was fun."

A goal-line stand by West Virginia in the second quarter kept Syracuse out of the end zone, but set up the Orange for a scoring run.

Left at their own 1, the Mountaineers tried to pass out of their end zone, but Smith was smothered by blitzing linebackers Cameron Lynch and Siriki Diabate for a safety to make it 5-0 -- a baseball score, of course.

The Orange followed that up with a 33-yard touchdown run by Gulley to make it 12-0 with 6:07 left in the second.

The Mountaineers responded with their first sustained drive, and Bailey took a quick pass, darted and broke tackles, and scooted 32 yards to the end zone to make it 12-7.

The Orange extended the lead to 12 to start the second half when they caught a break -- and a touchdown pass. Nassib's throw was tipped around the goal line, but floated safely into the waiting arms of intended receiver Beckett Wales for a 10-yard score.

West Virginia appeared to answer with a touchdown of its own. Andrew Buie broke free for a 28-yard TD run on fourth-and-2, but a holding call on the Mountaineers wiped out the play and sent Holgorsen on to the field screaming at the officials.

It didn't help. Instead of a touchdown, a punt.

Holgorsen had nothing to say about the call and was more disappointed with how his team responded.

"We did a poor job of continuing to play. A poor job of overcoming some things," he said.

Moments later another close call, this time on a fumble by Smith that was reviewed to determine if it was an incomplete pass, went Syracuse's way, and again the Orange capitalized.

On the next play, Gulley broke through the line, bounced to the outside and went 67 yards for a touchdown to make it 26-7 with 6:52 left in the third.

West Virginia wouldn't let Syracuse pull away. Smith found Bailey deep down the sideline, beating one-on-one coverage for a 29-yard score 1:11 later.

Right back came the Orange, nine plays, 70 yards, with Gulley taking a swing pass from Nassib 10 yards to make it 33-14.

The 60th meeting between these teams, but first in a bowl, ended up being a romp in the snow for Syracuse.

West Virginia (7-5) at Syracuse (7-5)
Dec. 29, 3:15, ESPN

Here’s The Deal … Remember, for all the bluster and all the hype, bowl games are exhibitions. While they’re the lasting images of a season, and they tend to define whether or not a campaign was a success, really, unless it’s the BCS championship, all that matters is whether or not the game is fun.

Be extremely disappointed if your 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl isn’t the wildest and craziest game of the post-season.

This used to be an annual matchup of Big East brothers, but West Virginia took its talents to the Big 12 and Syracuse is off next year to the ACC. This time around, if all goes according to plan, these two should put up astronomical numbers with two high-octane passing games and two defenses that have been just lousy enough to give up big play after big play.

Syracuse overcame a rocky 2-4 start with an embarrassing loss to Minnesota and a few interesting battles in losses to Northwestern, USC and Rutgers, and then the team got hot at just the right time, winning five of its last six games including a dominant 45-26 pasting of a then-unbeaten Louisville team to legitimize the season. Throw in a road win over Missouri in a game the Tigers had to have, and all of a sudden the arrow is pointed up for head coach Doug Marrone and an Orange team that’s had a hard time turning the corner.

Led by high-rising pro prospect Ryan Nassib at quarterback, the Syracuse offense has been fantastic, even if it’s been a bit inconsistent, leading the Big East in total yards and passing, while the defense is extremely aggressive and great at getting behind the line. When everything is clicking, this is a machine of a team.

West Virginia is even more devastating offensively, but the defense has a major problem giving up points just as fast as the O can score them.

After starting out the year as the hot team of 2012, the Mountaineers fell hard and fell fast with ugly losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State when the offense fell flat and the defense was non-existent. While they went on a five-game losing streak and flew off the national radar, they weren’t nearly as bad as they seemed losing in two overtimes to TCU and in a shootout against Oklahoma – those two games could’ve gone either way. While they pulled up out of the nosedive with two wins to close the year, they need to come up with an impressive victory. A performance like they cranked out in last year’s Orange Bowl wouldn’t be bad.

In the shocker of the BCS, West Virginia ripped apart Clemson 70-33 in a breathtaking showing of offensive firepower. However, four of the program’s last five bowl games have been double-digit blowouts, while six of Syracuse’s last eight bowl appearances have been decided by 13 points or more. On the plus side for the Orange, they’ve won ten of their last 13 bowl games going back to the 1988 Hall of Fame win over LSU. SU’s last bowl game was two seasons ago in the inaugural Pinstripe, beating Kansas State in a 36-34 thriller that was the best bowl of the 2010 post-season.

Expect even more fun this time around.

Players to Watch: The NFL scouts will be paying very, very close attention to the quarterbacks. Geno Smith is an almost certain top ten pick and could end up going No. 1 overall, Ryan Nassib is making a big move up the draft charts and could up his stock in a big way if he can win the duel. The 6-2, 229-pound bomber has been well trained by Marrone and his staff, improving by leaps and bounds throwing for almost 1,000 yards more than he did last year with 24 touchdown passes and nine picks – the same amount as last season. Best of all, he has improved as the season has gone on, throwing just one pick in the last six games. Very smart and with a live arm, he’s making better decisions and he’s great at going through his progressions in a hurry.

Smith might have gone from being a sure-thing Heisman winner at the midseason to off the All-America map, but that’s mainly because the team struggled. He might not have come up with a 656-yard, eight touchdown game over the second half of the year like he did in the win over Baylor, but he was great at keeping the mistakes to a minimum while continuing to bomb away, finishing the regular season with 4,004 yards and 40 touchdown passes and just six picks with two coming against Kansas State and two against Oklahoma.

Smith completed 32-of-43 passes for 407 yards and six touchdowns with a rushing score in the Orange Bowl win over Clemson, but top target Stedman Bailey only made five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the blowout. He made up for it this year with 106 catches for 1,501 yards and 23 scores in the All-America campaign with five touchdown grabs in the win over Baylor and four against Oklahoma. Extremely quick and fantastic at finding an opening, he’ll be an ideal complementary target at the next level, which he’s auditioning for in his final game – he has already declared that he’s leaving a year early for the NFL.

West Virginia will win if … the defense can come up with a slew of takeaways. The Mountaineers aren’t going to stop the Orange offense cold – it couldn’t stop you and ten friends from cranking out 300 yards – but they need to be able to force a few big mistakes. That’s been a little bit of a problem with just nine picks and nine recovered fumbles, but Syracuse struggles to come up with wins when it starts giving the ball away with seven of the nine picks and eight of the 11 lost fumbles coming in four of the five losses.

More than anything else, simply put, West Virginia’s offense just has to be better than Syracuse’s offense. The Mountaineers are more efficient, more explosive and more creative offensively than just about anyone, and while the Orange can keep up the pace and should be able to move the ball however they want, they don’t have the same weapons. It’s not a given with this WVU defense that anything the offense does will guarantee a victory, but there’s no chance at winning if Smith and the O aren’t rocking.

Syracuse will win if … it can get the offense hot right away. Almost everyone has fattened up on the West Virginia defense, but if the Orange can get a few early stops, and if Nassib and the offense can put up big points out of the gate, they should be okay. Texas Tech got out to a 49-7 lead with 35 first half points. Kansas State took a 52-7 lead after loading up on a 31 point first half. Oklahoma State got out to a 14-0 lead and a 21-7 first quarter advantage on the way to a blowout win, while Oklahoma was up 24-10 in its tight victory. A great first quarter won’t assure Syracuse of anything, but a slow start will likely be disastrous.

Defensively, the Orange must get to Smith on a steady basis, and while sacks would be nice, just generating pressure should be enough. Oddly enough, the defense failed to come up with a sack in four games and only lost one of them, but that won’t work against the Mountaineers. While Smith is great at coming up with plays on the move, and he’s terrific at getting the ball out of his hands, he has to at least be hurried. If he gets time, it’s over.

What Will Happen: The team that gets the ball last might win. The two teams will trade haymakers all game long with Bailey and Tavon Austin putting on a show for the Mountaineers, while Alec Lemon is a mortal lock for 100 yards and two scores for the Syracuse passing game. Nassib will throw for 400 yards, Smith will be razor sharp, and in the end, the West Virginia offense will be just good enough to make up for the issues on defense to give head coach Dana Holgorsen his second straight impressive bowl victory.

CFN Prediction: West Virginia 45 … Syracuse 40
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) West Virginia -4 O/U: 74

Pinstripe Bowl History
2012 Syracuse 38, West Virginia 14
2011 Rutgers 27, Iowa State 13
2010 Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34