Syracuse will face a challenge against West Virginia’s high-powered offense, the SU football captains said Saturday night during the basketball team’s win over Monmouth.
The Orange and Mountaineers will meet in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 29. It mark the second time in three years that Syracuse is playing at Yankee Stadium.
Syracuse won the first ever Pinstripe Bowl against Kansas State in 2010.
But the Orange will face a potent offense against West Virginia. The Mountaineers rank 6th in the NCAA in passing yards at 340.9 yards a game, and 7th in the NCAA with 41.6 points per game.
They are led by quarterback Geno Smith, who passed for 4004 yards and 40 touchdowns this season.
Needless to say, he’s improved since the last time SU faced West Virginia.
“He’s smarter in his game. He gets rid of the ball fast,” safety Shamarko Thomas said. “Last year, when we played him, we were shutting him down with blitzing, but now he’s reading stuff and getting better.”
But the Orange offense has been putting up big numbers, as well.
They are atop the Big East with 301.6 passing yards a game, and during a stretch when they went 5-1 to close the season, averaged 35.8 points per game.
“West Virginia is a high powered offensive team and they’re going to put up points regardless of what defense they play,” quarterback Ryan Nassib said.”We have to do a good job of throwing the ball and putting points on the board.
It helps that Syracuse is familiar with its opponent.
The two teams have met each other once a year since 1955, with the Orange winning the last two matchups including a 49-23 win in the 2011 season.
This will be the last meeting between the two old Big East rivals for the foreseeable future, as Syracuse is leaving for the ACC, and West Virginia has already spent one season in the Big 12.
“We’ve played against these guys in the past and we’ve been successful against these guys,” Nassib said. “They’re probably more hungry because we’ve beaten them the last two years.”
The Orange will also have the added boost of playing in front of friends and family. Many of the Syracuse players grew up in the New York City area.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that it’s kind of like another home game,” linebacker Siriki Diabate said. “Your whole family, all of your friends are going to be there.”
Rachel Marcus contributed to this story.Wesley Cheng