Even when it was 2-4, the Syracuse football team never lost its composure, concluding its regular season with a 5-1 surge and, remarkably, getting a share of the Big East title in its final season in the conference.
By doing so, the Orange, once projected to finish at the bottom of the Big East, made it to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl for the second time in three years, thrilled to be playing in New York City and at Yankee Stadium against West Virginia on Saturday night. Syracuse was projected by the AP and ESPN coaches poll to finish rock bottom in their division.
Whether it was on the ground, through the air, or defensively, the Orange dominated most facets of the snow-filled contest, taking over in the last two quarters and bidding farewell to the Big East with a crushing 38-14 victory over the Mountaineers.
What was supposed to be a battle of high-powered offenses became one-sided as SU outscored their opposition 26-7 in the second half while amassing a shade more than 500 total yards.
Prince-Tyson Gulley ran for a career-best 208 yards and had three touchdowns and was the recipient of the game’s Most Valuable Player award. Jerome Smith added 157 yards on 30 carries
“Our line came to play,” said Gulley, who ran the ball 25 times and also caught five passes for 56 yards. “They made it very easy for us to pick where we were running.”
“They (Syracuse) just did a better job than us at the line of scrimmage,” Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “To be in a game like this when you've got to rely on run defense to help you win and you're not able to do it, it's frustrating.”
The Orange's defense was so dominant that WVU was 0 for 11 on third conversions and 0-for-three in fourth downs attempted. By contrast, SU was successful on third down, going nine-for-18. The Orange also held the vaunted WV receiving corps to a combined 197 yards