It feels like Christmas is extended a few more days, as we’re finally in the middle of Bowl Week for the Syracuse Orange. The No. 17 ‘Cuse squad will take on the No. 15 West Virginia Mountaineers in the Camping World Bowl on Friday, renewing a rivalry with the former Big East and Eastern Independent foes. These are two evenly matched teams, so what should we be watching to tilt the scales? The former was answered pretty readily when we found out Grier was sitting this bowl out; a Miami Hurricanes transfer, the 4* QB hasn’t played much since arriving in Morgantown. But he’s built to be an NFL Pro-Style QB who’s good enough to be offered and transfer to D-1 schools. As for the later? I’d opt to say no, but that doesn’t mean Allison lacks talent. He knows WVU’s system well at this point, and should have a full playbook. Expect to see short passes early to set up his confidence, something I’m sure Brian Ward is expecting and should attack.
Teams: No. 17 Syracuse Orange (9-3, 6-2) vs. No. 15 West Virginia Mountaineers (8-3, 6-3)
Date & Time: Friday, December 28, 5:15 p.m. ET
First Meeting: Before they began to meet on an annual basis in 1955, the two programs took the eventual rivalry for a trial run in 1945. Syracuse shut out the hapless ‘Eers, 12-0 at Archbold Stadium. It was the lone win on the season for the Orangemen, while West Virginia was 2-6-1. #West_Virginia_vs_Syracuse
Last Meeting: Syracuse stomped WVU, 38-14 in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl. After leaving the Big East, the Mountaineers began their first season in the Big 12 just outside of the top 10, rising to No. 5 after two top-25 wins in the first five games of the year. But they’d lose five straight after the 5-0 opening, before winning the last two and setting up a battle of 7-5 former rivals in the Bronx. The Orange, who struggled to start the season, finished firing on all cylinders and fresh off a tie for the Big East conference title.
SU got off to a slower start in snowy Yankee stadium, but still led 12-7 at the half. They’d score 23 in the third quarter and the Orange defense suffocated Geno Smith & Co. from there — just as they had the previous two seasons against Dana Holgorsen’s club.
Coach Bio: “Holgo” played at Iowa Western in the early 90s, before moving on to coaching at Valdosta State from 1993-95. After additional stints at Mississippi College and Wingate, Mike Leach (whom he’d worked with at Valdosta) brought him aboard at Texas Tech. Holgorsen coached wide receivers from 2000-04, then held the co-offensive coordinator gig from 2005-07. He spent two seasons as OC at Houston, then another one at Oklahoma State, before taking over the West Virginia gig in 2011.
Since arriving in Morgantown, he’s picked up two top-25 finishes and two 10-win seasons (2011, 2016). His high-scoring Mountaineers were the team that scored 70 on Clemson in the Orange Bowl, leading to the Tigers hiring Brent Venables as their defensive coordinator. So if you ever wanted to know who to blame for Clemson’s current reign of terror over the ACC, might want to look Holgo’s way. #WestVirginiavsSyracuse
No mention of Holgo can avoid his numerous drinking-related incidents or his devout consumption of Red Bull. He’s quite the character.