MORGANTOWN - The Schwartzwalder Trophy will not be on the line when West Virginia (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) takes on Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 Big East) in the third annual Pinstripe Bowl at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
But that doesn't mean there isn't a lot on the line when the two former Big East rivals clash.
"With Syracuse, we have some unfinished business as well," Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen said.
That unfinished business is avenging what took place in West Virginia's last two meetings with the Orange, both Mountaineer losses. Syracuse came to Morgantown in 2010 and beat the Mountaineers, 19-14, then overwhelmed WVU in the Carrier Dome last year, 49-23.
"They (Syracuse) do have good players, but their scheme got us a little bit," said Holgorsen. "We'll see how much improvement we made on specific looks. They're a very much a dial-up defense kind of team, so you don't know what you're going to get."
What WVU and three-year starting quarterback Geno Smith received in the two prior meetings was an array of blitzes that confounded and confused the Mountaineer signal-caller and resulted in five interceptions in the two setbacks.
West Virginia (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) vs.
Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 Big East)
at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday
at Yankee Stadium.
WVU Bowl History
Jan. 4, 2012 Orange Bowl-West Virginia 70, Clemson 33
Dec. 28, 2010 Champs Sports Bowl-N.C. State 23, West Virginia 7
Jan. 1, 2010 Gator Bowl-Florida St. 33, West Virginia 21
Dec. 27, 2008-Meineke Bowl-West Virginia 31, North Carolina 30
Jan. 2, 2008 Fiesta Bowl-West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28
Jan. 1, 2007 Gator Bowl-West Virginia 38, Georgia Tech 35
Jan. 2, 2006 Sugar Bowl-West Virginia 38, Georgia 35
Jan. 1, 2005 Gator Bowl-Florida St. 30, West Virginia 18
Jan. 1, 2004 Gator Bowl-Maryland 41, West Virginia 7
Dec. 28, 2002 Continental Tire Bowl-Virginia 48, West Virginia 22
Dec. 28, 2000 Music City Bowl-West Virginia 49, Mississippi 38
Dec. 26, 1998 Insight.com Bowl-Missouri 34, West Virginia 31
Dec. 29, 1997 Carquest Bowl-Georgia Tech 35, West Virginia 30
Jan. 1, 1997 Gator Bowl-North Carolina 20, West Virginia 13
Jan. 2, 1995 Carquest Bowl-South Carolina 24, West Virginia 21
Jan. 1, 1994 Sugar Bowl-Florida 41, West Virginia 7
Dec. 30, 1989 Gator Bowl-Clemson 27, West Virginia 7
Jan. 2, 1989 Fiesta Bowl-Notre Dame 34, West Virginia 21
Dec. 25, 1987 Sun Bowl-Oklahoma St. 35, West Virginia 33
Dec. 31, 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl-West Virginia 31, Texas Christian 14
Dec. 22, 1983 Hall of Fame Bowl-West Virginia 20, Kentucky 16
Dec. 30, 1982 Gator Bowl-Florida St. 31, West Virginia 12
Dec. 31, 1981 Peach Bowl-West Virginia 26, Florida 6
Dec. 31, 1975 Peach Bowl-West Virginia 13, N.C. State 10
Dec. 29, 1972 Peach Bowl-N.C. State 49, West Virginia 13
Dec. 30, 1969 Peach Bowl-West Virginia 14, South Carolina 3
Dec. 19, 1964 Liberty Bowl-Utah 32, West Virginia 6
Jan. 1, 1954 Sugar Bowl-Georgia Tech 42, West Virginia 19
Jan. 1, 1949 Sun Bowl-West Virginia 21, Texas Western 12
Jan. 1, 1938 Sun Bowl-West Virginia 7, Texas Tech 6
Dec. 25, 1922 San Diego East-West Bowl-West Virginia 21, Gonzaga 13
Both losses came against ranked Mountaineer squads. The 2010 contest witnessed No. 20 WVU end an eight-game winning streak as it drove to the Syracuse 20 on its final possession, but the Orange held on for the 19-14 upset.
Noel Devine finished with 122 yards rushing and Smith completed 20-of-37 attempts for 178 yards, but tossed a trio of interceptions.
The 2011 meeting, which proved to be the final Big East showdown between the two conference rivals when WVU elected to jump ship and head to the Big 12, again saw the Orange defense force a pair of Smith miscues, but this time the Syracuse special teams got into the act as well when Dorian Graham returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score after the Mountaineers had pulled to within 14-9 on a Smith to Stedman Bailey 64-yard touchdown pass.
"Seventeen of the first 18 blitzes last year were different, so we have to identify that and get in the right play," added Holgorsen. "He (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."
But, just how comfortable will Smith and his offense be against an Orange defense that limited opposing offenses to 25.7 points and 385.1 total yards per game -236.9 in the air -as well as a weather forecast that calls for temperatures to be in the high 30s with a strong possibility of rain and snow.
"We're excited about the opportunity. I have been up with the Yankees organization several times. Those guys are tremendous, and the organization is tremendous," said Holgorsen. "They take good care of us. It'll be a great bowl game with some good events, like spending time in New York City. I polled the team, and I think about 75 percent of our guys have never been to the city, so it'll be a new and neat experience for them.
"The actual stadium is a pretty good venue for a football game, believe it or not. It fits in there pretty well. It's on top of you, so it gives you a pretty good atmosphere. I think we'll travel well and Syracuse will travel well, which will be fun and entertaining."
* The game will be televised by ESPN with Chris Fowler doing the play-by-play, Jesse Palmer the analysis and Tom Rinaldi roaming the sidelines.
* West Virginia is 27-32 all-time versus Syracuse. WVU is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings between the two schools and 11-10 from 1991-2011.
* Prior to 2012, Syracuse and West Virginia had met annually since 1955 and played for the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy when it was established in 1993.
* WVU will be making its 11th straight bowl appearance.
* The Mountaineers are 161-119-6 all-time against current members of the Big East Conference.
* Syracuse and WVU are among the winningest schools in major college football. The Mountaineers are 14th all-time with 708 victories while the Orange come in at No. 15 with 697 wins.
* The New Era Pinstripe Bowl was established in 2010 and pits a team from the Big East Conference versus a representative from the Big 12 in a game at Yankee Stadium.
* Syracuse beat Kansas State, 36-34, in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl.
* Rutgers posted a 27-13 win against Iowa State in last year's game.