West Virginia vs Syracuse
When: 5:15 PM ET, Friday, December 28, 2018
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
CAMPING WORLD BOWL STORYLINES
ORLANDO – No. 16 West Virginia will be missing a pair of familiar faces on offense when it takes on No. 17 Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando. The Mountaineers have announced that quarterback Will Grier and left tackle Yodny Cajuste will skip the game to prepare for their careers in the NFL, which has dragged the betting line down significantly in recent days. “Will and I spoke at length about the bowl game, and I am fully supportive of his decision to begin preparing for the NFL Draft,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “While we will miss him in Orlando, Will’s commitment and service to WVU football over the last three years will be talked about for many years to come.”
Grier would have served as one-half of a senior quarterback matchup which instead will pit sophomore Jack Allison against Syracuse senior Eric Dungey. The Orange signal-caller has thrown 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions and also has 15 rushing scores as part of his 732 rushing yards (second on the squad). “I think he’s got a lot more to become because I just don’t think his stuff is ending here,” coach Dino Babers, who recently signed a long-term contract extension, said regarding Dungey’s NFL prospects. “There’s not a lot of guys like him, there really isn’t.”
There could be plenty of points in this contest, as Syracuse scores 40.8 points on average – 12th-most in FBS – and gives up 27.8. West Virginia, meanwhile, averages 42.3 points – eighth in the country – although obviously the absence of Grier and Cajuste will alter the Mountaineers’ offensive potential in this one. West Virginia will not be void of talent on offense, however, as senior wideouts Gary Jennings Jr. and David Sills V have posted 115 combined catches for 1,823 yards and 28 touchdowns.
TV: 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: West Virginia -1.5.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (8-3, 6-3 Big 12): The Mountaineers allowed 104 points in losing their final two games of the regular season to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, giving up 35 fourth-quarter points in the two defeats. Allison, who has only thrown 10 passes this season, likely will rely on the trio of Kennedy McKoy, Martell Pettaway and Leddie Brown, who combined for over 1,700 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns out of the West Virginia backfield. Grier (37 touchdowns, eight interceptions) is considered one of the top quarterbacks available next spring, while Allison is widely expected to take over as the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback next season.
ABOUT SYRACUSE (9-3, 6-2 ACC): The Orange won five of their final six games, scoring at least 40 points in each of those victories, including a 42-21 triumph at Boston College in the regular-season finale. Moe Neal (827 yards) is the team’s leading rusher but has only found the end zone in three of Syracuse’s 12 games. On special teams, the Orange boast an All-American kicker in freshman Andre Szmyt (28-of-32 field goals) and the first-team All-ACC punter in Sterling Hofrichter, which should give them a considerable advantage if the bowl game becomes a field-position battle.