A quick take on Syracuse football accepting a bid to play in the 2018 Camping World Bowl versus West Virginia:
WHAT HAPPENED: Behind Clemson, the ACC’s top team and College Football Playoff representative, the Orange was the second highest ranked team at No. 20. Still, though the Camping World Bowl is slotted for the No. 2 team in the ACC, there was no guarantee that the Orange would be selected, with unranked (but receiving votes) NC State as a rumored participant. But SU’s breakout year in which it won nine games and was ranked for the first time since 2001 proved to be enough, and they will take on Big 12 foe West Virginia. Syracuse has a 33-27 all-time record against West Virginia, with the teams last meeting in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl.
ANALYSIS: Orange Nation was biting its fingernails up until the official announcement. Certainly, being the second-ranked ACC team behind Clemson should be the only argument needed for a bowl bid to the No. 2 ACC bowl. But in reality, it means that the Camping Bowl had the right of first refusal, which meant it could take any bowl eligible team from the ACC, regular season records notwithstanding. Orange fans don’t need to worry any more. The Camping Bowl feels like a well-deserved promotion, in a warm climate where the Orange can showcase its skills against the high-scoring Big 12.
HERO: You have to wonder if former ESPN and current Syracuse athletics director John Wildhack had any role in swaying the selection committee. The game is televised on ESPN and Wildhack certainly knows his way around marketing Syracuse to his former fellow executives. Either way, it’s another step toward national recognition for Dino Babers and the Orange, who are bowl bound for the first time since 2013’s Texas Bowl.
ZERO: Had the Orange not been selected, the Pinstripe Bowl was a very real possibility. Yes, it’s still an ACC Tier 1 bowl, in a market that SU has dominated, and would likely have a strong showing. But the Orange has already been to the Pinstripe Bowl twice (though the Bowl has risen in prominence since then) and had already played Notre Dame in November on that same field.
WHAT’S NEXT: The bowl game is on December 28, 2018 and is televised on ESPN. West Virginia went 8–3 (6–3 Big 12) this season, with a memorable win over then-No. 15 Texas on Nov. 3 and a heartbreaking 59-56 loss against College Football Playoff bound Oklahoma on Nov. 23. The Mountaineers are led by All-Big 12 Second Team quarterback Will Grier who threw for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, redshirt junior linebacker David Long was the first player in West Virginia history to be named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.