SU, who finished at 8-5, will enter the Atlantic Coast Conference on a roll after finishing this season with six wins in its last seven games. Dating back to when they were both in the Big East, SU has beaten WVU three straight times and five out of their last nine overall.
On a wintry afternoon, Ryan Nassib, playing his final game with the Orange, was not expected to be stellar. Indeed, Nassib who holds almost every career passing mark at SU, finished with ordinary numbers going 12 of 24 for 134 passing yards with a pair of TD's and one interception.
Nassib’s impressive feat occurred in the second quarter, when he overcame a tenacious hit and a sack while being driven into the turf by Terence Garvin. The 6-foot-3, 227 pound Nassib recovered quickly, missed only one play and led his team on a scoring drive.
The Mountaineers, once 5-0, saw Geno Smith (an early-season Heisman Trophy front-runner) go 16-for-26 for 197 yards in his final game of his record-breaking career. Smith connected to Stedman Bailey for two touchdown passes, but was also sacked in the end zone in the first half and called for intentional grounding in the third quarter that gave Syracuse their second safety.
In the second quarter, SU missed out on a golden opportunity to score their first TD from the one-yard line when Smith was pushed backwards and failed to cross the goal line.
Still, WVUhad poor field position and snowy whether conditions to deal with. Taking advantage, SU defensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett dialed up a blitz, and Smith was smothered by linebackers Cameron Lynch and Siriki Diabate which resulted in a safety and a 5-0 Orange lead.
After the free kick, SU continued to control the line of scrimmage as Gulley, with a huge hole to run through, navigated off right side for a 33-yard TD. Syracuse expanded their lead to 12-0 with 6:07 remaining in the half.