Tomorrow will be the final game of the 2012 season and will be the final attempt at accurate projections for the staff of HailWV. All season, we have pushed the envelope with our projections and have had mixed results. The Pinstripe Bowl affords us and the rest of Mountaineers Nation an opportunity to witness the final performances of some of the greatest offensive talents to ever put on the old gold and blue: Austin, Bailey, and Smith.
All of the members of the HailWV staff are expecting big games from these three, but differ on who will be the star in the bowl game. See what we are projecting for our final prognostications of the 2012 season.
November 17, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith (12) scrambles with the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the third quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Oklahoma Sooners won 50-49. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
West Virginia has had exactly 4 weeks to prepare for the Syracuse Orange. Last year, when the Mountaineers and coach Holgorsen had 4 weeks to prepare for the Orange Bowl, WVU came out and hung 10 touchdowns on the Tigers.
I’m expecting a similar outburst from the Mountaineers in the Pinstripe Bowl. Syracuse fields a pedestrian defense that Geno Smith and the Mountaineers offense should have no trouble in handling. The one wrinkle in this scenario will be the weather. New York is forecast to be quite cold tomorrow afternoon with some mild wind conditions. The colder and windier this game ends up, the more difficult it will be for Geno and the passing game to get on track.
Even in adverse conditions, I like the Mountaineers offense to handle the Orange defense. What will be the deciding factor in this game will be the play of the Mountaineers defense, especially in the wake of the defensive coordinator change. With that in mind, I will predict that the WVU defense will hold Syracuse to 300 yards of offense and force two turnovers. I expect Karl Joseph to be instrumental and contribute 10 tackles and an interception.
Even with Syracuse’s “home field advantage,” I expect West Virginia to come away with a lopsided victory, 49-24.
I was going to go with another poor performance from our defense, but after seeing Baylor’s defense, which might have been worse than ours, put in a somewhat respectable performance against UCLA, I’m inspired to think our defense will turn the corner too. With Keith Patterson in full control of the defense for bowl preparations, I’m hoping to see an improvement. We certainly can’t expect everything to be fixed- we still have the same players after all, but hopefully the fundamentals will be better at least.
Offensively, I think we’ll be in prime form. The weather might slow us down a little, but not enough to help Syracuse. I think Geno will wow everyone in his final game in gold and blue and throw for 400 yards and 5 TDs, with Austin contributing 250 total yards and 3 TDs, Bailey goes for 175 yards and 2 TDs, and running back Andrew Buie will contribute 100 yards and a touchdown. A huge offensive performance will lead the Mountaineers over Syracuse 52 – 31.
Two competing thoughts have been going through my head when thinking about the Pinstripe Bowl. The first is the memory of being slapped around unexpectedly by the Cuse over the last two years, both of which I was unfortunately in attendance for. On the other hand, I was also fortunate enough to be at the Orange Bowl, and feel that if you give Dana long enough to scheme, good things happen.
Looking at the cuse, Nassib has been progressing very impressively over the past few years and is getting some love as an NFL prospect. I am a bit afraid of him gashing us, which is probably due to the last couple years of muscle memory, but again compared to Plethora of QBs we have gone up against, is Nassib really that good?
Frankly we are a superior team. However, Syracuse has talent is I feel is a much more sound team from a discipline standpoint. I still feel like we will have a significant talent advantage and we will see a farewell tour from Geno, Sted, and Tavon. I am a bit concerned, but going with 54-41.
December 1, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers running back Shawne Alston (left) rushes the ball against the Kansas Jayhawks during the first quarter at Milan Puskar Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Yankee Stadium will be covered in snow, forcing both teams to run more than anticipated. Look for Alston to steal the show in this one. I think WVU will have to rely primarily on him in this game.
I think Alston will finish with 22 carries, 125 yards, and 2 touchdowns.