The West Virginia Mountaineers and Syracuse Orange will play a good ole game of American football for the 58th time when the two Big East rivals meet this Saturday in Morgantown. Every year this game brings back memories of growing up in the late ’80′s/early ’90′s and watching SU and WVU games with most of my family. In case you didn’t read my last blog, my older brother, Marcus, is a huge Syracuse fan. My brother was so superstitious about the then “Orange men” that he would watch the game in a separate room from the rest of the family simply because we we’re all Mountaineer fans. Back then Paul Pasqualoni was Head Coach, and guys like Marvin Graves, Marvin Harrison, Rob Conrad, Donovan McNabb, and Dwight Freeney, wore Orange and the Syracuse faithful had tons to cheer about.
Well folks, that was the glorious then for Syracuse and this is the painful now. Doug Marrone leads the Orange and his stars are Delone Carter, Ryan Nassib, and Derrell Smith. The last time Syracuse played in the post season was in 2005 and over the past 8 seasons the Orange have failed to beat the Mountaineers. To put that in perspective, I’ve gotten married and had two children since the last Syracuse victory over West Virginia.
In all fairness, the Orange head into Saturday’s contest against the Mountaineers with a winning record (4-2, 1-1) and their best start since the 1999 season. While things have started off on the right foot for Syracuse this season, last week was not their best outing of the year. Syracuse was flat out dominated by the Pitt Panthers to the tune of 45-14. I happened to be watching this game with Marcus and you could see his heart drop as Pitt took a screen pass about 81 yards for a touchdown on the opening series. Defensively, I have to give props to Syracuse because they have picked up more speed on that side of the ball but, I still think that will be an issue for them come Saturday.
Speaking of speed, the new kings of the aforementioned in the Big East are now the 19tha ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. Fresh off of their victorious Big East opener (20-6) against former speed kings, USF, the Mountaineers are now atop the Big East with a overall record of 5-1 (1-0 in the Big East). Lead by Gino Smith, the Mountaineer offense has gained over 200 yards passing and scored at least 2 passing touchdowns a game. As for the defense, that unit interecepted USF’s B.J. Daniels 3 times last week and only allows 246 yards per game (11th nationally). Once worried about the lack of pressure that his defense was putting on opposing quarterbacks, Head Coach Bill Stewart can now relax some as the defense has recorded 18 sacks since the third game of the season.
When the final horn sounds in Morgantown Saturday afternoon I have a feeling that Marcus will once again throw things and curse (BTW, still waiting on my ”Macho Man” Randy Savage action figure to be replaced) as he has done every year the Mountaineers beat the Orange. Unfortunately, I’ve got a feeling this game will not only be a repeat of the past 8 seasons, but a complete blowout in favor of WVU. Now, in predicting a Syracuse defeat, I’m not completely writing the Orange off for the rest of this 2010 season. Heck, I’ll be the second West Virginian to say it (of course Marcus was the first), Syracuse will win at least 6 games and play in a bowl this season. It may be the Kellogg’s “Cereal Bowl” but rest assured Orange fans, you will play in a bowl game. As for the Mountaineers, I’ve got a feeling that they’ll end up in a bowl as well at the end of the season. Ironically, I’ve got a feeling that WVU’s bowl destination will be closely related to, you guessed it, Oranges.
About the Author
Written by Jason Lee
Born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia, I've been a sports fan probably since I was about 9 years old! A 2002 graduate of Mount Union College (Alliance, OH), I've had the opportunity to cover some great high school football on the radio in both Ohio (working with WHBC in Canton) and in West Virginia (I currently work with Bristol Broadcasting in Charleston). I also keep an on-line journal/blogs on my own website.