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2018 Bowl Coverage

Camping World Bowl First Look: West Virginia And Syracuse Excel With Differing Offensive Approaches

It’s been six years since these former conferences foes played. What does a quick look at some stats tell us about the matchup now?

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Getty Images - Nate Shron

West Virginia and Syracuse face off in the Camping World Bowl on December 28, but there are definitely some important takeaways to note just from looking at the numbers.

The most notable news related this game came when West Virginia quarterback Will Grier decided to not play in this bowl game and begin preparing for the 2019 NFL Draft. That’s big for the Mountaineers, whose high-powered offense has run all season on the arm of Grier.

Grier’s absence will obviously leave West Virginia in somewhat of a bind, but the Mountaineers are still slightly favored in this matchup.

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Yet, most striking about this contest is how much these teams differ in terms of their offensive balance – while Syracuse has been a very balanced offensive team all year, West Virginia has really been about airing the ball out for a highly talented wide receiver corps.

And the numbers only back that up. Syracuse ranks 36th and 31st nationally in passing and rushing offense, respectively, whereas the Mountaineers have the 3rd ranked pass offense and are ranked 75th in rushing offense.

MATCHUP WVU SYR
Points Per Game 42.3 40.8
Points Allowed/Game 26.5 27.8
Yards Per Game 520.4 467.9
Opp. Yards Per Game 405.5 426.8
Points Per Play .555 .457
Opp. Points Per Play .379 .385
Yards Per Play 6.9 5.6
Opp. Yards Per Play 5.7 5.8
3rd Down Conversion % 45.00 34.06
Opp. 3rd Down Conversion % 43.33 45.75
Turnovers Gained 22 30
Turnovers Lost 16 16
Average Time of Possesion 28:45 31:02

Both teams are about average defensively, and they give up almost the exact same number of yards per play. They also have similar third down conversion rates against opposing offenses.

Where the two differ is really in turnovers – the Orange have managed to get an astounding 30 turnovers this season. That number almost makes West Virginia’s 22 takeaways look average, but both defensive teams are very good in that category.

The biggest unknown in this game is by far the West Virginia offense and what it will look like without one of the best quarterbacks to ever wear blue and gold.

Without a doubt, the Mountaineers still have talent on offense – David Sills V and Gary Jennings Jr are both elite receivers, and the offensive line for West Virginia has been one of the best in the Big 12.

The quarterback that the Orange most likely will see is redshirt sophomore Jack Allison, a transfer from Miami who hasn’t seen a lot of playing time this season. Allison was a four star recruit coming out of high school, though, and if there’s a position group that head coach Dana Holgorsen knows how to work with, it’s quarterbacks.

PASS LEADERS C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT QB RATING
WVU – W. Grier 266/397 3864 9.7 37 8 175.5
SYR – E. Dungey 205/343 2,565 7.5 17 7 134.9
RUSH LEADERS CAR YDS AVG TD
WVU – K. McKoy 128 729 5.7 7
SYR – M. Neal 147 827 5.6 5
RECEIVING LEADERS REC YDS AVG TD
WVU – G. Jennings 54 917 17 13
SYR – J. Custis 46 826 18 6

The defense for the Mountaineers will have a tough time trying to make Syracuse one dimensional. The Orange know how to spread the ball around, and have six skill position players with at least 500 yards from scrimmage in 2018.

Keep an eye on quarterback Eric Dungey, who really makes the offense go and is a true dual threat. Dungey has carried the ball almost 14 times a game on average this year, running for 732 yards in the process.

Dungey, a senior, also does not turn the ball over very often, having thrown only seven interceptions all year.

There’s also the history between these two teams that needs to be factored in. While the Mountinaeers were in the Big East, these two squads used to play annually for the Schwartzwalder Trophy. That rivalry probably matters a little more for these fans than for the players currently on the roster, but we’ll see for sure what impact it has in just under two weeks.

West Virginia and Syracuse kickoff from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida at 4:15 p.m. on December 28th.

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