The Syracuse Orangemen would love for nothing more than to follow up last year's win over West Virginia with one final home "W" against the #15 ranked (BCS) Mountaineers. The 2010 edition ended with the Orange snapping an 8 game series losing streak to WVU, holding the home favorites to just 14 points for the game. However, this is a completely different style of football compared to last year, and don't think for one minute that Syracuse head coach, Doug Marrone, doesn't know that. Earlier in the week, Marrone stated, "I think I'd be naive not to think we might have gone to Morgantown and caught them a little bit, but I don't think that's going to be the case this year."
Syracuse currently holds a 4-2 record (0-1 BE), but let's not forget the blown call during the 'Cuse/Toledo game, which would have made the Orangemen's current record 3-3. The extra point should have been ruled "no good", which would have given the Rockets a 30-29 victory, instead of Syracuse's 33-30 OT win.
The Orange currently rank 72nd in passing yards and 100th in rushing yards among all FBS schools. They are averaging 26.7 PPG, but allowing opponents to score 27.3 PPG against them. One can expect the last number to go up after tonight.
West Virginia currently averages 40.8 PPG, ranking 13th nationally in this category. With the Mountaineers' defense holding opponents to 21.5 PPG, there should be no doubt who should (statistically) come out on top after 60 minutes of Big East football. The Mountaineers are ranked #3 nationally in passing yards, averaging 380.5 per game, and #91 for their 123 average rushing yards per game.
Quarterback Geno Smith has already thrown for 2,159 yards, with 16 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and holds a 64% completion record for the year. Add Stedman Bailey into the mix, who has already hauled in 5 TDs and 634 yards, then toss in a little Ivan McCartney with 3 TDs and 455 yards, and this trio could easily amass 450+ yards in this matchup. One could also top of this platter of air-raid goodness with the likes of Tavon Austin and his 564 yards with 2 TDs. We are mid-season, and these three receivers could well be on their way to 1,000 yard seasons. Do you remember the last time WVU had 3 receivers with over 1,000 yards?
Syracuse defensive coordinator Scott Shafer has been practicing against the "air-raid" all week, and says, "My arm's sore from throwing a lot of deep balls." Shafer knows how West Virginia likes to pass the ball, and hopes to have the Orange secondary ready to disrupt the big plays. Returning for Syracuse tonight are defensive end Chandler Jones, and strong safety Orlando Fisher, who is expected to make big plays of his own on special teams, as well.
Even after comparing West Virginia's offensive production and Syracuse's 111th place defense, the Mountaineers are only favored by 14 points, according to ScoreMobile. However, this could be the last time the Mounties play in the Dome, as next year's game will be in Morgantown, and the following season seems to have the Orange bolting for the ACC. This could be a driving factor for both teams. The Orange would love to upset WVU in front of a home crowd for one last hurrah! However, West Virginia could easily take out some "conference realignment aggression" on Syracuse for jumping ship and leaving the Big East stranded.
On paper, this is an open and shut case. West Virginia should leave with yet another lopsided victory and over 500 total offensive yards. However, don't count out the Orangemen in this one, folks. As witnessed last year, anything can happen.
My prediction: The Ben Schwartzwalder trophy comes back to Morgantown- WVU 31 Syracuse 23
I know it's a last minute post, but let us know what you think will happen tonight.