WVU, Syracuse invited to Camping World Bowl

MORGANTOWN — No. 16 (CFP) West Virginia (8-3, 6-3 Big 12) now knows where it will play during the upcoming bowl season — Orlando, Florida, in the Camping World Bowl.

The Mountaineers, which ended the regular season with back-to-back losses for the second consecutive year, know who they will play Dec. 28 contest — former Big East rival Syracuse University.

Now, what fans of the Old Gold and Blue want to know is – Who will be playing for head coach Dana Holgorsen when they take on the Orange?

“We’re excited to be going to Florida once again,” Holgorsen explained. “It’s perfect for us. And having a great, old Big East matchup will be great for our fans.”

This will be the 61st matchup between the two schools with Syracuse holding a 33-27 edge in the series which began in 1945.

The last meeting took place at Yankee Stadium in the 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl with the Orange coming away with a dominating 38-14 victory. Syracuse also won the only regular season meeting with WVU’s Holgorsen — handing the Old Gold and Blue a 49-23 setback.

WVU went on to capture the Big East title during its final season in the conference and defeated Clemson by a 70-33 score in the Discover Orange Bowl.

“We’re really excited about being a part of the Camping World Bowl,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. “I’m getting caught up on it (the rivalry) as we speak. I know this, we are looking forward to going up against a former Big East foe. You guys (WVU) go bowling all the time, but this is new ground for us.”

West Virginia will be making its fifth straight bowl appearance — and seventh during the eight years Holgorsen has been head coach. The Mountaineers will also be making its second trip in three years to Orlando — Miami (Fla.) defeated WVU by a 31-14 score in the Russell Athletic Bowl in 2016.

“We’re familiar with Orlando,” continued Holgorsen. “We do a lot of recruiting in Florida. We know Orlando pretty well. Our kids love it there and our fans love it.”

But will WVU have a full contingent of players when it takes to the field for the 5:15 p.m. kickoff against the Orange on ESPN?

“Yea, I don’t know,” added Holgorsen. “That’s a question every coach in America will have to answer over the next few weeks.”

The answer, however, may not come quickly.

“Right now, we gave the guys the last week off and next week are finals, so it will be all about education for them. We have a big recruiting weekend coming up next weekend, so we will have a team meeting and find out some things then.”

Last season the Mountaineers took on Utah in the Zaxby Heart of Dallas Bowl without then-redshirt junior quarterback Will Grier, who suffered a season-ending broken hand in a 28-14 loss to Texas, leading rusher Justin Crawford – who elected to forego to bowl to prepare for the NFL draft – and then-redshirt junior offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste, who was injured during the final days leading up to the game.

“We’ve got a great team,” Holgorsen fired back when asked if all his players would suit up against the Orange. “We have 54 underclassmen who are on scholarships. So, no matter who plays and who doesn’t play, we will be able to put a competitive team out there for our fans to cheer for.”

Contact Jim Butta at mountaineersman@outlook.com and on twitter @buttaman2001.