West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. Syracuse Orange (7-5 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Date: Saturday, December 29, 2012, 3:15PM EST
Where: New Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WVU -3.5/SYR +3.5
Over/Under Total: 73.5
Saturday, December 29th in the Bronx, New York, we will witness just the third edition of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. In 2010, the Syracuse Orange took down Kansas State 36-34, while in 2011, Rutgers beat Iowa State by two touchdowns. This season, Syracuse will again be in the game taking on the Mountaineers of West Virginia. What started out as a promising season for West Virginia ended up being pretty average. Three to four weeks into this season, West Virginia had the leading Heisman Trophy candidate in Geno Smith, and was actually ranked in the nation’s Top Ten. After starting 5-0, they then went on an 0-5 decline losing miserably in all but two of those games. Syracuse on the other hand came into this season with little hopes of winning anything, but they have been getting consistently better of the course of the last 4-5 years. For the most part Syracuse beat the teams they were supposed to, and lost to the teams everyone thought they would. The defining moment of the season was when they took down the undefeated, 9th ranked team in the country in Louisville. Other than a huge loss to USC, the Orange stayed pretty competitive even in their losses. This should be a very competitive game with both teams looking to air out the ball. With an over/under sitting in the mid 70’s, what else would one expect?
Like I said earlier, West Virginia started this season out with guns blazing. Geno Smith led the way and took the national media by storm. By week 4, some experts were already handing him the Heisman Trophy and the Mountaineers were a real threat to compete for a BCS title. While consistently dropping 40-50 points per game, W. Virginia did have some issues playing defense, ranking near the bottom of all the FBS in defensive scoring, which is why they were unable to compete with teams like Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech. They also took a huge beating by eventual Big 12 champ, Kansas State with a score of 55-14. Ranking 7th in the nation in scoring and 116th in scoring defense is the recipe for mediocrity in the world of college football. The big play/high scoring offense in many cases will cause the experts and the public to overlook the defensive woes, which is why West Virginia comes in as 3.5 point favorites in this game. Not only does WVA have the scoring, but here are some numbers to keep in mind when picking this contest: WVA is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games on grass, they are 7-3 ATS versus the Big East, and they are 3-1 in their last 4 games played in the month of December. Let’s also not forget their recent bowl success. I will not go into much detail, but ask a Clemson fan about the Mountaineers quick strike offense.
Syracuse to me, is the epitome of an average football team. This is in no way a shot to their team, it really isn’t. There are over 115 teams in the FBS and to be considered middle of the pack isn’t anything to really be ashamed of for most schools. Syracuse over the last 3-5 seasons has made great strides to improve the state of their program. This year, Syracuse played a pretty tough schedule. They faced off against USC, Northwestern, Rutgers, and Louisville. They did go just 1-3 in those games, but they remained competitive for the most part in all of those games, with the exception of their 42-29 loss to the Trojans of USC. The Orange ended the season 61st in scoring, 52nd in scoring defense, and 21st in offensive scoring. Like I stated earlier, Syracuse is just pretty average. Nothing great stands out, but nothing makes you cringe either. Syracuse may not look like the sexy pick in this game, but they have gone 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games. The key in this contest will be to somehow, someway, slow down the Mountaineers passing attack. The Cuse will put up points, and I do sense a shootout, but they are going to need to keep WVA under 40 in order to have a shot to win this one. My feeling is the winner of this game will put up about 42-45 points.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Tough call. Syracuse has played pretty well but West Virginia can put up points quicker than any other team in the nation with the exception of Oregon. With that said, I am sticking with my gut and just going with the offense that is most dangerous. I really like Syracuse from a defensive standpoint, but I don’t have that much faith in their D. I like West Virginia to score, score, and score some more. I believe for a half or so, Syracuse will hang, but towards the end of the game West Virginia will pull away. The spread is a mere 3.5, but I like WVA to win this thing about 44-27. PICK: WEST VIRGINIA -3.5
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