The Camping World Bowl, which is the second game being played on Friday, Dec. 28, offers the #16 West Virginia Mountaineers (8-3, 3rd Big 12) versus the #20 Syracuse Orange (9-3, 2nd ACC – Atlantic). The contest will start at 5:15 pm ET at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL. This game is the first of many offering one nationally-ranked team battling another. Our 2018 Camping World Bowl pick has the Syracuse Orange favored by two points. The over/under comes in at 60.0. Here’s a look at how West Virginia and Syracuse performed this season.
Syracuse performed much better than expected this season. They won their first four games before losing to #3 Clemson 27-23 and unranked Pittsburgh 44-37 in OT. Four more victories followed, including a 40-37 OT win over North Carolina and a 51-41 upset of #22 NC State. The other loss was to #3 Notre Dame 36-3. They ended the regular season with a 42-21 win over the Boston College Eagles.
The Mountaineers had a strong start as they managed to take down the first five teams they met, including #25 Texas Tech. They also enjoyed a bye-week when their game against NC State was cancelled. West Virginia lost their first game of the season to upstate Iowa State, but then won three straight. That trio of wins included a victory over #17 Texas. But the Mountaineers faltered at the end of the season, losing to Oklahoma State by four points and #6 Oklahoma by three.
#20 Syracuse – Analysis
The Orange are averaging 40.8 PPG and 206.4 YPG in rushing and another 261.5 YPG in passing. in Senior QB Eric Dungey (60.1 COMP%, 17 TDs, 7 INTs) is solid in the pocket. Dungey has over 2,500 passing yards this season. He’s also rushed for 732 yards, averaging 4.4 YPA and scoring 15 times. Junior RB Moe Neal has gained 827 yards and scored five TDs. He’s averaging 5.6 YPA. Four Orange pass catchers have 39 or more receptions this season. Our 2018 Camping World Bowl pick expects senior wideout Jamal Custis (46 REC, 826 YDs, 18.0 YPC, 6 TDs) to be Dungey’s primary target.
The Orange will be mossing some key players on defense. The Syracuse defense has allowed 27.8 PPG. Of the 426.8 total defensive yards allowed, 163.8 have been on the ground and 263.0 in the air. The secondary has grabbed 17 picks and defended 35 passes. DB Andre Cisco is the real thing. He’s grabbed seven interceptions and defended nine passes. The team also has notched 40 sacks and 84 TFL. DL Alton Robinson (39 TKLs, 17 TFL, 10 SCKs) and Kendall Coleman (29 TKLs, 9 TFL, 7 SCKs) are top performers. Robinson will not be playing in the bowl game. Trill Williams an important part of the secondary will also be missing. The Orange has 10 FF and 10 FFR.
#16 West Virginia – Analysis
The Mountaineers are averaging 42.3 PPG and 358.1 YPG in passing. Senior QB Will Grier (67.0 COMP%, 37 TDs, 8 INTs) passed for over 3,800 yards this season. A genuine playmaker, Grier has three fine pass catchers to toss to. But he will not be passing. Grier has decided to sit out the bowl game and await the NFL Draft. That leaves the Mountaineers with the task of choosing between two very inexperienced QBs.
If the neophytes can be utilized, West Virginia does have two very fine senior wideouts, Gary Jennings Jr (54 REC, 917 YDs, 17.0 YPC, 13 TDs) and David Sills V (61 REC, 896 YDs, 14.7 YPC, 15 TDs). Both are touchdown machines. However, Jennings will not be playing. The West Virginia rush attack has three runners with 400 yards or more. Together, the trio has 17 TDs. Leading the way in total yards is Kennedy McKoy. McKoy has rushed for 729 yards and seven TD while averaging 5.7 YPA. Martell Pettaway, who has 562 yards and six scores, is averaging 6.0 YPA.
The Mountaineer D allowed opponents 26.5 PPG. They gave up 254.6 YPG in passing and another 150.8 in rushing. The West Virginia defense has a dozen picks and 38 PD. Sacks total 22, while TFL stand at 85. LB David Long is a massive force. He’s nailed 104 tackles, seven sacks, and 19 TFL.
Five Keys to the Game
- Grier not playing; Dungey is
- Syracuse D is compromised to a degree
- Syracuse is hungry; has not been in a bowl since 2013
- Orange offense runs on a high motor; can wear teams down
- Syracuse defense needs to play good enough to win
Our Camping World Bowl Pick
Our Camping World Bowl pick is the Orange at -2.0. We think that Syracuse has a solid offense and a tough defense. At the same time, the Mountaineer offense without Grier and Jennings is highly compromised. As far as the over/under goes, we find 60.0 to be a bit high. Go with the under. To get the skinny on Friday’s other two bowls, click on the appropriate links that follow – Valero Alamo Bowl and Music City Bowl. You’ll find our full bowl schedule here.