Bowl action heats up on the final Saturday prior to New Year’s Day, as the West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5) out of the Big-12 take on their former Big East rival, the Syracuse Orange (7-5) at 3:15pm ET from Yankee Stadium in New York, NY. The Mountaineers started the season red hot with a 5-0 start and climbed to number 5 in the national rankings before losing 5 straight games and finally salvaging their season with wins in their last 2 games over Iowa State (31-24) and Kansas (59-10). West Virginia is 5-7 ATS this season. Syracuse is 6-5-1 ATS this season and the Orange were the Big East co-champions and won their last 3 games to close out the regular season, covering in each.
The West Virginia offense ranks among the top scoring offenses in the nation with one of the nation’s most prolific quarterbacks in senior Geno Smith (4,004 yards passing, 40 TDs). The Mountaineers rank 7th among FBS teams in scoring offense with an average of 41.6 points per game and 8th in total offense with 518.5yards per game. The Mountaineer defense ranks 116th in scoring defense with 38.1 PPG allowed and 110th in total defense with 469.6 YPG allowed.
The Syracuse offense features senior quarterback Ryan Nassib (3,607 yards passing, 24 TDs, 9 INTs), who has directed an offense that ranks 61st among FBS teams in scoring with 29.3 PPG and 21st in total offense with 473.4 YPG. The Orange defense ranks 54th in the nation in points allowed with 25.7 per game and 52nd in total defense with 385 YPG allowed.
West Virginia vs. Syracuse Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
West Virginia Mountaineers -3.5
@ Syracuse Orange +3.5
Over 73.5 (-110)
Under 73.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
West Virginia vs. Syracuse Pick:
The two teams are quite familiar with each other, having met every season between 1955 and 2011 as conference rivals, and the Orange had dropped 8 straight in the series before winning the last 2 games. West Virginia has a 4-1 record ATS in their last 5 games on grass, a 7-3-1 record ATS in their last 11 games against Big East teams and a 3-7 record ATS in their last 10 games against teams with a winning record. Syracuse is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games against teams with a winning record. The over is 6-2 in the Mountaineers last 8 bowl games, 9-4 in their last 13 non-conference games and 11-5 in their last 16 games against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-0-1 in Syracuse’s last 6 games overall, 5-0-1 in their last 6 games on grass and 8-1 in their last 9 non-conference games. In head-to-head play, the underdog is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings and the road team is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 meetings.
Syracuse has an edge over the Mountaineers, having defeated them in each of the last two seasons, by a score of 19-14 in 2010, and 49-23 last season. Smith was sacked 9 times combined in those 2 games, and threw for 3 TDs and 5 INTs. Syracuse won the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl in 2010 by a score of 36-34 over Kansas St. behind 239 yards passing and 3 TDs from Nassib. With the 22nd ranked passing offense in the nation for Syracuse and the 5th ranked passing offense for West Virginia, both teams can throw the football well. Smith can put up pints on any defense, but with the 123rd ranked pass defense West Virginia gives up almost as many points as they score. Expect the ball to be in the air a lot in what should be one of the most exciting bowl games of the season, take the over in what should be a VERY high-scoring game.
PICK = Over 73.5