Eight days away. Time to start previewing.
Syracuse is facing a pretty familiar foe in the Pinstripe Bowl this year. The Mountaineers may be in a different conference now, but it hasn't been too long since we hated each other. So it's fun that Syracuse is playing the Mountaineers again in a Bowl Game. We spoke to Chris Sedenka of The Jack Fleming Society. Somehow, after graduating from WVU, he's able to read and write. You can feel free to harass him on Twitter here. Questions and answers are below.
Orange::44: West Virginia started out rolling, winning their first five games. Then the lost the next five. What was the difference?
Chris: There were a few factors. The first being that the terrible defense finally caught up with WVU. The unit got away with it against Baylor and Texas. However, when a unit is that bad it's only a matter of time before it gets burned. So, the minute the offense slipped, WVU fell off. The amount of pressure put on Geno Smith and the offense was just too much. If WVU had to punt a few times early they would find themselves down two scores in no time. It just became impossible for them to keep up with efficient teams. After a few losses the team's confidence was noticeably shaken, and games that should have been wins just ended up being garbage fires. It took a Herculean effort led by Tavon Austin to right the ship.
O::44: How have the fans reacted to now playing Big XII opponents?
Chris: It's been a great transition. Sure, the season hasn't gone the way most would want, but it really has been fun. Changing UConn and Rutgers to Oklahoma and Texas has been incredibile. Especially for one of the lone Big East schools that was football-first. I think most fans would love to still have Pitt and Syracuse on the schedule, but really nothing else is a huge miss from the Big East.
O::44: What is the most important unit to the success of West Virginia?
Chris: It would have to be the offense. The defense just doesn't have the talent to keep WVU in games, so the offense better be hitting. Look for WVU to use Austin a lot early to try and create some big plays. The Mountaineers will give up points, so Geno and the offense better be ready to keep pace.
O::44: Obviously the WVU offense can score. Why does the defense have such trouble stopping opponents?
Chris: A lack of consistent pass rush, which then kills very weak cover corners and backers. There's just not a lot of talent, experience or depth at those positions, and it has really hurt WVU. The middle of the field is pretty good. The Mountaineers can and have stopped the run. However, the pass has simply murdered WVU all year. If Ryan Nassib has a good pocket, he will pick the secondary apart.
O::44: Most fans don't seem happy being in the Pinstripe Bowl. Why is that? What are your thoughts?
Chris: The fans are ridiculous. A bowl game is a bowl game. Anytime you make the postseason it's a good season. The problem is many thought this team had a chance to make a serious run at the BCS this year. That was never going to happen with the defense that WVU put on the field.
It's also great for a big alumni base that typically is untapped. Folks don't understand how big the northeast WVU alumni base is. Northern New Jersey and New York have very good alumni numbers, and I expect a decent showing in the Bronx. Plus, it's not a bad drive from Maine, so I'll take it.
O::44: WVU is favored, but the crowd will definitely be more SU fans than WVU. I think this game is more of a push, don't you agree?
Chris: This game is completely a push. There should be more Cuse fans, but I still expect a nice showing of blue and gold. On the field we have two offenses that will probably dictate the game. If you're a betting man take the over.
O::44: Final predictions?
Chris: First to 40! I'll take WVU 42-40 Maybe they'll have the ball last. I really dont expect WVU to stop Syracuse. I also think Geno, Tavon and Stedman Bailey will have huge final games for the Mountaineers. Plus, Dana Holgorsen will have nearly a month to create some crazy gameplan.
Thanks to Chris and the fellas over at the site. My answers to his questions can be found here, so be sure to check those out as well. We'll be seeing Chris in New York and there's a Twitter bet on the line so stay tuned.