A quick take on Syracuse’s 49-23 win against West Virginia:
WHAT HAPPENED: There was just a different energy about tonight for Syracuse right from the start. On SU’s second drive, the Orange went 84 yards on 14 plays for a touchdown. They followed that up with another 14-play, 80-yard drive for a second score. Those two drives came to symbolize the entire night for SU, as the 49 points was the most that Syracuse has ever scored against West Virginia. Syracuse racked up 438 total yards on offense and converted 12 of 17 third down opportunities.
ANALYSIS: SU coach Doug Marrone couldn’t have scripted this game any better. The Orange overcame the potent West Virginia offense, which had come into the came 13th in the NCAA with 40.8 points per game. SU’s defense was simply more physical than West Virginia, and got to quarterback Geno Smith. Smith was sacked four times, but more importantly, was knocked down many more times than that, forcing a lot of bad throws. It really shows how much the Orange missed Chandler Jones, Olando Fisher and Shamarko Thomas. This was a completely different defense than the one that gave up 34 points to Tulane two weeks ago.
HERO: Can anyone believe that Nick Provo only had one reception for four yards against Rhode Island? That seems like a distant memory after Provo humiliated the Mountaineers secondary, catching six passes for 61 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for 230 yards and four touchdowns. On defense, Chandler Jones made a triumphant return to the SU lineup, with six tackles and two sacks.
ZERO: As mentioned before, Smith had a tough night, tying a season high with two interceptions. Smith finished with two touchdowns and 336 yards passing, which makes the SU defense look even more impressive considering West Virginia was third in the NCAA with 380.5 passing yards a game. West Virginia’s offensive line struggled protecting Smith and also opening running lanes for running back Dustin Garrison. The Mountaineers totaled just 69 yards on the ground all night.