Orlando, December 14, 2018- Camping World Stadium surfaces a good ol’ rivalry in #16 West Virginia Mountaineers (4th in BIG 12 Conference at 6-3) and #20 Syracuse Orange (2nd in Atlantic Coast Conference at 6-2), after Syracuse got the last laugh in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl, dominating 38-14. The two former Big East opponents will dance for the 54th time on Friday December 28th, kickoff at 5:15 pm on the four-letter network.
History lesson: Originally labeled as the Blockbuster Bowl, the game sprouted out of Miami in 1990. Flourishing in its first debut, the Penn State Florida State crowd-pleasing matchup got the likes of more than 74,000 fans. Over a decade went by after that, and the attendance plummeted, forcing the Bowl out of South Florida’s depths. The first game in Orlando was known as the Tangerine Bowl, tribute to its predecessor, the Citrus Bowl, now widely recognized as the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.
ESPN’s matchup predictor depicts the Mountaineers having the edge at 66.1%, compared to the Orange’s 33.9% win-chance, according to their football power index.
Rivalry: Both teams used to reside in the Big East conference as mentioned above, before branching off to their current respected conferences. The Orange and the Mountaineers first met eye to eye in 1945 on Syracuse’s gridiron; the Orange held it down, winning 12-0. The two continued to battle yearly in the regular season, from 1955-2011. Syracuse leads the all-time series 33-27.
Syracuse’s nine wins this season are the most for the program since the Orange finished 10-3 in 2001. The Orange feature a high-powered offense that averages 40.8 points and 468.8 yards per game, good for 12th and 18th in the FBS, respectively. Quarterback Eric Dungey ranks eighth nationally with 15 rushing touchdowns on the season and enters the Camping World Bowl with 3,297 yards of total offense (2,565 passing, 732 rushing), the second-highest season total in team history.
West Virginia also features a potent offense that ranks third nationally in passing (358.1 yards per game), eighth in total offense (520.4 yards per game) and ninth in scoring (42.3 points per game). The Mountaineers offense is led by quarterback Will Grier, who comes into the game ranked third in the FBS in both passing yards per game (351.3) and passing touchdowns (37). Per campingworldbowl.com
Defensively, West Virginia has allowed 405.5 yards (254.6 passing, 150.8 rushing) and have won the last 3 of their last 5 games. Syracuse has 426.8 yards allowed (263.0 passing, 163.8 rushing) and have come out on top in 4 of their last 5 games, losing only to the Fighting Irish; 3rd ranked Notre Dame.
Camping World Bowl also states that tickets are available via Ticketmaster by visiting https://bigtime.games/18cwbtix. Groups of 10 or more may call the Florida Citrus Sports offices at 407-423-2476.
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor