The Camping World Bowl could have been one of the more exciting early bowls, but the absence of Will Grier doused those chances. That said, money is still coming in on West Virginia as a small favorite. The Mountaineers were -1 point favorites with an over/under of 67 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) a week before the Game in Orlando.
It’s hard to take into account anything during the season for West Virginia (6-3-2 ATS) since Grier meant so much for the team, not to mention left tackle Yodny Cajuste is also skipping the Game. The Mountaineers won through their offense and Grier, and while quarterback Jack Allison is a former top recruit, the Miami transfer attempted just 10 passes this season. Freshman Trey Lowe is also expected to see time, but going into a Game with two new, inexperienced quarterbacks is rarely a good idea.
The bonus for Syracuse (8-3-1 ATS) is that it has its stud quarterback in Eric Dungey, even if he battled injuries for the last month. The Orange often played to the level of competition, but they didn’t have a bad loss on the Schedule and even gave Clemson its hardest Game of the season. In fact, they scored at least 37 points in six of the final seven Games of the season and that’s an issue for a mediocre West Virginia defense.
WVU struggled most against the pass giving up 7.8 yards per attempt, though also wasn’t great against the run. Dungey isn’t an elite passer (17 TDs, 7 INTs), but his mobility is what makes the offense dynamic. The Orange used a trio of rushers to carve up opposing defenses with Dungey supplying 732 yards and 15 touchdowns himself. Running backs Moe Noel (827 yards) and Dontae Strickland (560 yards) put in great campaigns, while the receiving core was also plenty balanced with Jamal Custis (18.0 yards per reception) the playmaker. WVU’s defense wasn’t bad, but it’s what cost them a bigger bowl and the reason it lost three Games.
Of course, Syracuse almost had equally bad defensive numbers against a weaker Schedule, but they still put in good performances. From allowing seven points to FSU to 27 at Clemson, this group battled. The other question is Jack Allison and Trey Lowe as neither has much collegiate experience. While the receiving core is stout between Gary Jennings (917 yards, 13 TDs), David Sills (896 yards, 15 TDs) and Marcus Simms (699 yards), it’s hard to put faith into either quarterback. The benefit is that both are a bit different with Allison serving as a pocket passer and Lowe being more mobile. As a positive, the ground Game was stout between Kennedy McKoy (729 yards) and Martell Pettaway (562 yards), but again, that was with Grier slinging the ball. WVU didn’t have Grier in last year’s bowl and it lost 30-14 to Utah, albeit a team with a legit defense. In that Game, backup quarterback Chris Chugunov went 9-for-28 with 129 yards.
This Game is close to a pick ‘em because of what West Virginia did with Grier. And even if he played, it would still likely be close because the Mountaineers would have trouble stopping Dungey and company. There will be points in this Game, but it’s a wonder if the WVU quarterbacks can keep up.
The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five out of conference, but haven’t covered in their last five bowl Games and are 0-4 ATS in their last Four against the ACC. The Orange have covered in their last Four on field turf and are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six non-Conference Games.
Our Pick – The numbers say West Virginia, however, the loss of Grier as well as the offensive coordinator has us on a very capable Syracuse squad. Syracuse pk