SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Syracuse did it again!
For the second straight year, Syracuse upset West Virginia, stunning the No. 11 Mountaineers, 49-23, in a dominating performance at the Carrier Dome.
West Virginia (5-2), a 14-point favorite, was outplayed in all phases of the game by a fired-up Syracuse team that raised its record to 5-2.
The Orange outgained WVU, 443 yards to 407, while the Mountaineers committed the only two turnovers of the game. Syracuse had 25 first downs.
Syracuse established its dominance early on, leaving no doubt WVU was in for a battle.
Following an exchange of punts -including a 43-yard boot by former Parkersburg South standout Michael Molinari that gave Syracuse the ball on the 16-yard-line -the Orange went on a 84-yard scoring march to take a 7-0 lead.
Syracuse 49, West Virginia 23
WVU (5-2, 1-1) 3 6 7 7 - 23
SU (5-2, 1-1) 7 14 14 14 - 49
S: Nick Provo 3 pass from Ryan Nassib (Ross Krautman kick) 4:15, 1st
W: Tyler Bitancurt 27 field goal 1:06, 1st
S: Nassib 1 run (Krautman kick) 10:13, 2nd
W: Stedman Bailey 64 pass from Geno Smith (kick failed) 8:41, 2nd
S: Dorian Graham 98 kickoff return (Krautman kick) 8:28, 2nd
W: Shawne Alston 1 run (Bitancurt kick) 10:07, 3rd
S: David Stevens 29 pass from Nassib (Krautman kick) 7:21, 3rd
S: Nick Provo 10 pass from Nassib (Krautman kick) 0:18, 3rd
S: Provo 5 pass from Nassib (Krautman kick) 11:29, 4th
W: Brad Starks 25 pass from Smith (Bitancurt kick) 9:18, 4th
S: Antwon Bailey 3 run (Krautman kick) 5:26, 4th
WVU: First downs: 19. Rushes-yards: 24-70. Passing yards: 337. Total yards: 407. Passing: 24-41-2. Fumbles-lost: 1-0. Punts-avg: 3-44.3. Penalties: 5-37.
Syracuse: First downs: 25. Rushes-yards: 41-194. Passing yards: 249. Total yards: 443. Passing: 25-33-0. Fumbles-lost: 0-0. Punts-avg.: 4-45.3. Penalties: 3-25.
WVU: Rushing: Garrison 11-58, Alston 9-47. Passing: Smith 24-41-2, 338 yards. Receiving: Bailey 7-130, Austin 6-60, Milhouse 2-46, Brown 2-36, Garrison 5-32, Starks 1-25, McCartney 1-9.
Syracuse: Rushing: Bailey 22-125, Smith 9-35, Ameen-Moore 5-19, Nassib 4-10, Kobena 1-5. Passing: Nassib 24-32-0, 230 yards; Bailey 1-1-0, 20 yards. Receiving: Graham 5-66, Provo 6-61, Stevens 2-34, Chew 3-31, Lemon 3-29, West 2-14, Wales 2-6, Bailey 1-5, Kobena 1-4.
The Orange used 15 plays and ran 6:40 off the clock before quarterback Ryan Nassib hit Nick Provo from 3 yards out for the game's first points. The 14-point underdog not only had scored first, but it appeared to have the momentum -in addition to a raucous home crowd on its side.
But a team that scores as fast and often as West Virginia doesn't panic, especially when the deficit is only 7-0. The Mountaineers reeled off an 11-play drive of their own, but after achieving a first down and goal situation at the Orange 9, the drive stalled and WVU had to settle for a 27-yard Tyler Bitancurt field goal with 1:06 left in the opening quarter.
While WVU had established offensive momentum, it didn't carry over to the defense, which allowed the Orange to go on yet another 15-play scoring drive, this one of 80 yards. When Nassib dove over the middle from 1 yard out, it was 14-3 Orange with 10:52 left in the first half.
West Virginia clearly had received a wake up call. The question was would the Mountaineers answer it.
The answer came quickly. After two plays netted just 5 yards, Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith hit Stedman Bailey along the Syracuse sideline at about the Orange 30. Bailey not only made a circus-like catch on the play, but he then tiptoed down the sidelines and didn't stop running until he had scored WVU's first TD of the evening. It was 14-9 with 9:30 to play, and it stayed that way when Bitancurt's extra point attempt plunked off the left upright.
After looking good on its first two kickoff coverage plays, West Virginia let one of major weaknesses surface on the ensuing kickoff as Syracuse's Dorian Graham took the ball at the Orange 2 yard line and returned the kick 98 yards for a touchdown. It was 21-9 Orange and WVU officially was on upset alert.
Following another change of punts, West Virginia used a 43-yard pass from Smith to Willie Milhouse as well as a 12-yard toss to Stedman Bailey to set up a first down at the Syracuse 12. But Smith was intercepted in the end zone, stopping the drive and sending WVU to the dressing room with a stunning 12-point deficit.
There was no panic in West Virginia. The Mountaineers took the second half kickoff and drove 57 yards in 16 plays, converting four third-downs and a fourth down along the way. Shawne Alston scored from a yard out to cut the deficit to 21-16.
But there also was no panic in Syracuse. The Orange, after returning the kickoff to their own 49, needed just six plays to regain their 11-point edge, thanks to a 29-yard TD pass from Nassib to David Stevens with 8 minutes left in the third quarter to make it 28-16.
The next two possessions for both teams proved decisive. While West Virginia went three-and-out and then was intercepted on the first play, Syracuse drove 71 and 35 yards for scores to salt away what must be viewed as a stunning upset. First, Nassib hit Provo with a 10-yard score with 1:05 left in the third quarter. Then, following the interception on the final play of the third quarter, Antwon Bailey, who took over at quarterback, threw a 5-yard TD pass to Provo. It was 42-16 with 12 minutes to go.
Desperate, West Virginia quickly drove 63 yards for a score with Smith hitting Bradley Starks from 25 yards out to cut the deficit to 40-23 with 9:18 to play.
But any thoughts of an amazing comeback were dashed when Syracuse returned the favor, needing just seven plays to drive 79 yards to score with 5:26 left and put an exclamation mark on the biggest win of the Doug Marrone era and obviously the biggest loss of Dana Holgorsen's short tenure in Morgantown.