West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Syracuse Orange (+3.5, 73.5)
WHEN: 3:15 PM ET, Saturday, December 29, 2012
WHERE: New Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL STORYLINES
1. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has 96 career touchdown passes, 40 this season, but has only three scoring strikes while throwing five interceptions and being sacked nine times in losses to Syracuse in 2010 and 2011.
2. Syracuse has averaged 38.5 points in winning five of its last six games and the Mountaineers are giving up 38.1 overall –114th out of 120 FBS teams. Syracuse scored 49 points against West Virginia in 2011 and leads the series 32-27.
3. West Virginia makes its 11th straight bowl appearance, tied for the nation’s eighth-longest streak, and is 14-17 overall. Syracuse is 13-9-1 in bowls, including a 36-34 victory over Kansas State in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in 2010.
TV: 3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: West Virginia opened as a 4-point favorite and has been bet down to -3.5. The total has stayed remotely steady at 73.5.
CONSENSUS: 66 percent of Covers Consensus is on WVU while 62 percent is on the over.
WEATHER: The forecast for Yankee Stadium is calling for an 88 percent chance of snow with temperatures in the low 30s. Winds are expected to NNE at 6 mph.
* Mountaineers are 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings in Syracuse. The Orange are the home team in this Bronx bowl game.
* Underdog is 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Road team is 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (7-5, 4-5 Big 12, 5-7 ATS): Smith put up some amazing numbers this season, completing 71.4 percent of his passes and throwing for 4,004 yards with only six interceptions. However, the Mountaineers allowed an average of almost 50 points during a five-game losing streak to derail their season. West Virginia rebounded to win their last two and two of the nation’s top receivers, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, will be looking to put on a show against the Orange. Bailey has caught 106 passes for 1,501 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. Austin has 110 receptions for 1,259 yards and 12 touchdowns, while rushing for 598. Andrew Buie leads the ground attack with 817 yards. West Virginia gave up only 34 points combined in the last two games.
ABOUT SYRACUSE (7-5, 5-2 Big East, 6-5-1 ATS): The Orange turned it on down the stretch, including a big comeback at South Florida and wins over Louisville and Missouri. Syracuse, which finished tied for first in the Big East this season after tying for last in 2011, averaged only 13 points in three games before beating Connecticut 40-10 to start its run. Quarterback Ryan Nassib has 13 touchdown passes and one interception over the last six games after 11 and eight, respectively, the first six. Nassib’s top target is Alec Lemon, who caught 70 passes for 1,063 yards. Marcus Sales has also caught 63 passes for 863 yards. Jerome Smith has 1,019 yards rushing overall and an average of 110.7 the last six. Syracuse has allowed an average of 28.8 points the last five games.