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Virginia Mountaineers vs. Syracuse Orange Pick
West Virginia Mountaineers (3-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Syracuse Orange (2-3 SU, 3-1 ATS), 12:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 10, 2009, Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y. TV: Big East Network
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: West Virginia -10/Syracuse +10
For the first time in a while, Syracuse football is getting some attention. And that’s because of its quarterback, Greg Paulus, who played four years on the Duke basketball team before deciding he wanted to play college football for a year.
Paulus has led the Orange to a fairly competitive season thus far. They opened the season with what looked like a win over Minnesota, but the Golden Gophers came from behind to force overtime and steal a 23-20 victory. Then, the Orange lost at Penn State, but a 28-7 loss is quite respectable. Following two wins over Northwestern and Maine, they lost to South Florida, a team that is now nationally ranked, 34-20. This week, the Orange look for their first Big East victory as they host West Virginia.
The Mountaineers are 3-1, with home wins over Liberty, East Carolina and Colorado, and a road loss at Auburn. The Mountaineers have been led by running back Noel Devine, who has 540 rushing yards, six touchdowns and a 7.4 yards-per-carry average.
Quarterback Jarrett Brown has been decent in his four starts of the post-Pat White era at West Virginia. Brown has 946 yards, seven touchdowns and a 67.6 completion percentage, but he has thrown five interceptions. Brown’s main target is Jock Sanders, who has been abusing opposing defensive backs. Sanders has 32 receptions in four games for 327 yards and two touchdowns.
The Mountaineers have scored between 30 and 35 points in each of their four games this season. In the loss to Auburn, the Mountaineers ran well with 209 rushing yards, including 128 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries by Devine, but Brown threw four interceptions and the Mountaineers lost two fumbles. In the win over Colorado, Devine destroyed the Buffaloes defense with 220 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Mountaineers turned the ball over four times in that game, giving them 10 turnovers in their last two games.
In five games, Paulus has 1,157 passing yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. Almost half of Paulus’s completions have gone to wide receiver Mike Williams, who has 41 catches for 623 yards and five touchdowns. Delone Carter is the Syracuse running back. He has 327 yards and five touchdowns.
The Mountaineers haven’t been great against the pass. They have allowed 244.3 passing yards per game, but they do have six interceptions.
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Syracuse has the fifth worst pass defense in the country, allowing 290 yards per game. They’ve also allowed 13 passing touchdowns, which is tied for the most in the nation.
West Virginia is allowing just 31 rushing yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry. Syracuse isn’t too far behind West Virginia’s run defense, as the Orange are allowing just 32 rushing yards per game and 2.9 yards per carry.
This game is going to come down to the quarterbacks, as both run defenses have been stellar this season. Devine is a good enough running back that he may still put up decent numbers, but he likely won’t come close to the 220 yards he ran for against Colorado. If Devine does indeed struggle, Brown will have to carry the offensive load for the Mountaineers, something he hasn’t yet had to do. Paulus is always the key to Syracuse’s offense, so not having an effective rushing attack will be nothing new for the Orange.
West Virginia is 2-5 ATS in its last seven road games, but the Mountaineers are 19-6 SU in their last 25 road games. The total has gone over in four of their last five road games. Syracuse is 5-12 SU in its last 17 home games. The Mountaineers are 6-2 ATS in their last six games against Syracuse.
Ryno’s Pick: The Mountaineers have scored between 30 and 35 points in all of their games, but Devine has been the key to their offense. If Syracuse can contain Devine, the Orange should be able to keep the game close and give them a chance to pull off the upset. With two strong run defenses going at it, the game could come down to the quarterbacks. The Mountaineers defense hasn’t been great this year, and if they can’t stop Paulus and Williams the Orange will put up a lot of points. Take Syracuse +10 at the home of the web’s best underdog betting odds: Sportsinteraction.