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Battle in the bronx

Scoring and snow predicted in contest

December 29, 2012
Staff Reports , The Inter-Mountain

NEW YORK - The forecast for the Pinstripe Bowl calls for snow and scoring.

West Virginia and Syracuse play today at Yankee Stadium in a matchup of former Big East rivals and NFL prospect quarterbacks.

Snow is expected to fall in the New York area throughout the day, with accumulations of about 3 inches. Maybe that will help the defenses slow down a couple of offenses that have been among the best in the country this season.

Geno Smith and the Mountaineers are eighth in the nation in total offense at 518 yards a game. Ryan Nassib and the Orange are 21st at 473.

West Virginia (7-5) has scored at least 31 points 10 times this season. Syracuse (7-5) averaged 36 points a game while winning five of its last six.

The last time the Mountaineers faced the Orange, it was on the losing end of a 49-23 decision last season.

Nassib passed for 229 yards and four touchdowns in that contest.

They have everybody back on offense," said Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen. "That quarterback (Nassib) just keeps getting better and better. He has worked his way up, much like Geno, to where he is going to be a top draft pick and play at the next level."

West Virginia defensive coordinator Keith Patterson is familiar with Nassib during his career as Pittsburgh's coordinator.

"On Saturday, you're going to see a quarterback who's in command, in complete control," Patterson said. "Last year I think you saw some indecision. This year he's an operator."

Smith has struggled in his last two matchups against Syracuse.

They're very much a dial-up-a-defense kind of team, so you don't know what you're going to get," Holgorsen said. "Seventeen of the first 18 blitzes last year were different, so we have to identify that and get in the right play.

"(Smith) has matured a bunch, and from a scheme standpoint, he is going to be able to see that and make some pretty good checks; I feel comfortable about that."

Both teams are excited about playing in the bowl, despite the looming weather conditions.

"It counts as a win or it counts as a loss, so you better treat it like any other game," Holgorsen said. "At the end of the week you better be prepared to win, because everybody's going to expect you to win.

"Snow doesn't bother us much, but if the wind's blowing then that makes it miserable."

Today's game is set for 3 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

"Hopefully our experience in New York playing Syracuse will be better than last year, which was not very pleasant," Holgorsen said.

"We're going to be motivated to play based on what happened last year. We went up to Syracuse and they outcoached us and outplayed us.

"We will revisit that and obviously watch the film from last year, watch their film from this year and try to come up with the best plan."



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