Countdown to Kickoff


FOOTBALL BLOG
By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
December 29, 2012 09:38 AM

NEW YORK – West Virginia faces Syracuse in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium today. This will be the 60th meeting between these two longtime eastern rivals, who spent 21 seasons together in the Big East Conference from 1991-2011 until the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 last summer.

This is 57th consecutive season these two schools have met on the gridiron dating back to 1955 when Syracuse defeated the Mountaineers 20-13. Overall, Syracuse owns a 32-27 advantage in the series, including winning back to back games in 2010 and 2011, after the Mountaineers claimed eight straight victories from 2002-2009.

Last year, the Orange routed West Virginia 49-23 in the Carrier Dome.

This game pits two of the most successful football programs in college football, West Virginia ranking 14th in total victories with 708 while Syracuse is 15th with 697 wins.

ESPN (Chris Fowler, Jesse Palmer and Tom Rinaldi) will televise the game while the Mountaineer Sports Network (Tony Caridi, Dwight Wallace, Jed Drenning and Hoppy Kercheval) will provide radio coverage to affiliates across the Mountain State with pregame coverage beginning with the Mountaineers Today at 2:15 p.m.

Kickoff is set for 3:15 p.m.

Here is today’s Countdown to Kickoff:

10 – Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib ranks TENTH in the country with 3,619 yards passing entering today’s game.

9 – Syracuse’s offense only has NINE offensive plays of 40 yards or longer from scrimmage this season.

8 – The Mountaineers currently rank EIGHTH among all NCAA programs by making their 11th consecutive trip to a bowl game this year.

7 – West Virginia has the nation’s SEVENTH-best scoring offense averaging 41.6 points per game.

6 – Syracuse has SIX games of at least 500 yards of total offense this season to rank tied for 11th in the country in that category. West Virginia currently shows five 500-yard games this season.

5 – West Virginia wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey have combined to produce FIVE games of at least 179 yards receiving this season. Bailey produced a school record 303-yard receiving performance against Baylor while Austin had a career-high 215 yards receiving in the same game.

4 – Today’s game will be Syracuse coach Doug Marrone’s FOURTH meeting against West Virginia. Marrone owns a 2-1 record against the Mountaineers.

3 – Quarterback Geno Smith ranks THIRD in the country in points responsible for averaging 21 points per game. Smith has thrown 40 touchdown passes this year and has added two more on the ground.

2 – Syracuse has won the last TWO meetings against West Virginia in 2011 (49-23) and 2010 (19-14).

1 – Senior Jeff Braun is making his FIRST career start at center for today’s game. Braun is moving over from right guard where he has made 38 career starts.

Enjoy today’s game and be sure to stop back afterward for complete postgame coverage.
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