Look, I’m the type of dude that’s willing to admit when he’s wrong. And boy was I wrong about the Mountaineers and Orange match-up today. Un ranked Syracuse rolled into Morgantown and upset the 20th ranked Mountaineers 19-14 on homecoming Saturday. Needless to say the sate of West Virginia is in complete and utter shock about this loss to the Orange.
First off, most Mountaineer fans and sports writers (including yours truly) figured that this would be a cake walk for the Blue and Gold because Syracuse had just been destroyed by Pitt 45-14 the week before. Now, talking with folks around town, the feeling was that the Mountaineers were at least 2 touchdowns better than Pitt thus, they should be able to handle Syracuse. Second, it was a homecoming game, everyone knows that homecoming games are supposed to be easy so that the home squad can walk away with a win in front of family, friends, and alums who came out to support that day.
Giving credit where credit is do, the Orange came to Morgantown on a mission to run the ball down the Mountaineers throat. Syracuse was successful in doing so largely behind the efforts of their offensive line and running backs Antwon Bailey and Delone Carter. Bailey and Carter combined for a total of 169 yards rushing which was about 86% of the Syracuse rushing attack for today (that’s a lot folks). With that type of output, it’s no wonder the Orange were able to keep the speedy Mountaineer defense on it’s heels.
Speaking of the speedy Mountaineer defense, overall it held it’s own int the second half holding Syracuse scoreless. Problem was, the Mountaineer defense had already given up 19 points in the first half while it’s offense was only able to score 14. To me, it seemed as if Syracuse used it’s power to go against West Virginia’s speed. And honestly, on this Saturday afternoon, the power won the battle between the two. Again, can’t say enough about the Syracuse running attack today because it was very impressive.
Final point, West Virginia’s turnovers were super detrimental to the Mountaineer cause. Uncharacteristically, quarterback Gino Smith, aka “Junior Clutch”, turned the ball over 3 times today. Doug Hogue had off 2 of Smith’s 3 picks and Phillip Thomas had the other. What’s interesting is that all 3 picks came in the first half of the game (Hoguehad 1 int in boththe first and second quarters and Thomas had 1 in the first as well) and never before in his short career has Smith ever committed 3 errors in one half.
So, at the end of the day the Mountaineers are 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big East while Syracuse is also 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big East. It’s safe to say that the Orange are on a super high right now and the Mountaineers a super low. I find it also safe to say that the Mountaineers will fall out of the top 25 for the second time this season. Next up for the Mountaineers are relative new commer to the Big East Conneticut. The Huskies are fresh off a 26-0 butt whooping at the hands of Louisville and are looking to get on the right track by knocking off what looks like a vulnerable West Virginia team. The Mountaineers have only six days to prepare for the Huskies and better do so or else they could find themselves in the midst of a two game losing streak.
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.