Syracuse plays in its first bowl game since 2013 when it takes on West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET / ESPN). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Brad Bierman and Wes Cheng gave their predictions for the game.
BRAD BIERMAN (Season Predictions, 9-3): It seems like forever since Syracuse celebrated its season-ending thumping of Boston College, and so much has happened to the program since Thanksgiving that’s provided plenty of momentum right up until today’s late afternoon kickoff against old foe West Virginia in Orlando.
The highlights include the second-best finish behind national semifinalist Clemson in the ACC, the best bowl bid in a year of no Orange Bowl, a contract extension for Dino Babers that should essentially end his college career in orange midway through the next decade, a fantastic early signing period group of recruits, and a sellout of SU’s 8,000 official ticket allotment for the Camping World Bowl game itself.
As it pertains to on-field personal, it remains to be seen in a one-shot setting just how much the fact that both teams will not have key players on both sides of the ball because of voluntary (sitting out for the NFL Draft in the case of WVU), or involuntary (“personal reasons” in the case of SU), decisions.
It leaves two questions that intrigue us: Just how much will the absent players affect the game within the game at the line of scrimmage, and will there be an unheralded contributor that played sparingly, if at all, during the regular season that makes a splash?
In the end, we see Eric Dungey as again the difference maker as he takes advantage of an open playbook and having one last fun fling as the Syracuse quarterback both running and passing. A late fourth down Orange defensive stop helps preserve a 40-30 SU victory and the 2018 team becomes the seventh in program history to win 10 or more games in a season.
WES CHENG (Season Predictions, 8-4): As Brad mentioned above, there’s somewhat of a lack of star power in this game, especially coming from the Mountaineer side. Quarterback Will Grier, wide receiver Gary Jennings and offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste aren’t playing in this game, opting instead to prep for the 2019 NFL Draft.
On SU’s side, their defensive line will be looking thin, with defensive end Alton Robinson and nose tackle McKinley Williams missing the game with what the team would only state as “personal reasons.”
This will be a good opportunity for West Virginia to get a look at Grier’s heir apparent, Jack Allison, who only attempted 10 passes this season after transferring from Miami. The Mountaineers came into 2018 with Big 12 Championship aspirations, and Allison’s audition may provide some insight into how realistic West Virginia’s hopes for 2019 look.
Expect Allison to shine early, and the two teams to get in a shootout. But look for Eric Dungey, playing in his final college game, to lead the Orange on an epic game-winning drive to cap a frenzied, entertaining back-and-forth contest, ending in a 52-45 Syracuse win.