The Big 12 and ACC will get a matchup in Orlando on Dec. 28. Syracuse and West Virginia will meet in a reunion of teams from the old Big East. Here is the 2018 Camping World Bowl Preview.
West Virginia Mountaineers (8-3)
It was another solid season for West Virginia, although they would have liked to win their last few games of the season to qualify for the Big 12 Championship Game. Still, the Mountaineers defeated three bowl-eligible teams (Texas, Baylor and TCU) and finished with a good record. West Virginia also only lost to bowl-eligible teams this season.
The Mountaineers score 42.3 points per game, which ranks ninth in the country. They rush for 162.3 yards (ranked 74th) and pass for 358.1 yards per game (ranked third).
West Virginia will be without starting quarterback Will Grier for this game, who is preparing for the NFL Draft. Jack Allison and Trey Lowe will both play in his absence. Allison has completed six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown in his career so far. Lowe hasn’t recorded a pass attempt this season. They will have a few talented receivers to throw to including Marcus Simms and David Sills, but they will be without Gary Jennings who is ruled out of this game with an ankle injury. Sills leads the team in receptions (61) and touchdowns (15).
Three running backs have received the bulk of the carries this season for the Mountaineers. Kennedy McCoy is the lead back with 739 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Martell Pettway has registered 562 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while Leddie Brown has run for 433 yards and four touchdowns.
The defense allows 26.5 points per game, which is ranked 60th in the FBS. West Virginia gives up 150.8 rushing yards (ranked 49th) and 254.6 passing yards per game (ranked 100th). Linebacker David Long has led the team with eight sacks on the season.
Syracuse Orange (9-3)
Dino Babers has done one of the best coaching jobs in the country, getting Syracuse to nine wins. They beat three bowl-eligible teams this season (NC State, Wake Forest and Boston College) and took advantage of a down ACC. Their only losses came to teams that were bowl-eligible including Notre Dame, Clemson and Pitt.
The Orange rank 11th nationally with 40.8 points per game. The offense rushes for 207.3 yards (ranked 30th) and passes for 261.5 yards per game (ranked 36th).
Syracuse has one of their best quarterbacks of all time under center in Eric Dungey. He has set several Syracuse records and this season has thrown for 2,565 yards, 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions on 60.1% completion. Dungey has four main targets he likes to throw to in Jamal Custis, Sean Riley, Nykeim Johnson and Taj Harris. All have over 500 receiving yards, but Custis leads the team 826 receiving yards and six touchdown catches.
Moe Neal leads the team in rushing 827 yards and is aided by Dontae Strickland’s 560 yards. Dungey is the second leading rusher on the team with 732 yards and has the most rushing touchdowns with 15.
The defense allows 29.8 points per game, ranking 73rd nationally. The Orange allow 163.8 yards on the ground (ranking 63rd) and 263 yards through the air (ranked 112th). Defensive end Alton Robinson leads the team with 10 sacks on the season, while defensive back Andre Crisco has 18 passes defended on the season, ranking near the top of the FBS.
This was going to be a fun matchup before Will Grier decided to sit out and prepare for the NFL Draft. It should still be competitive, but Syracuse gets the edge with West Virginia being without some of their most important players. Dungey will want to go out with a bang before heading to try out for NFL teams.
Syracuse Orange 48 West Virginia Mountaineers 40
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