Big 12: Justin Pugh
December, 29, 2012
By Andrea Adelson | ESPN.com
Syracuse beat West Virginia 38-14 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on a snowy Saturday at Yankee Stadium. Here is a quick look at how the game went down:
It was over when: Syracuse absolutely dominated the third quarter, outscoring West Virginia 23-7 to turn a close game at the half into a blowout. The Orange had their way up front, opting to gash the Mountaineers on the ground for nearly 400 total yards. They harassed Geno Smith for the entire game, forcing him into two safeties and a fumble that they converted into a touchdown. And they completely shut down electric all-purpose player Tavon Austin, who was a non-factor all game.
Game ball goes to: Prince-Tyson Gulley. Both he and Jerome Smith are deserving of recognition, as they each went over 100 yards on the ground. But Gulley was better, ripping off huge chunks of yards every time he got the ball in the best game of his career, finishing with 213 yards. He ended up with three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) -- including a 67-yard run that was the longest of the season for the Orange.
Stat of the game: 0-for-10. A big reason why the Mountaineers could not sustain any drives? They could not convert on third down. And because they could not convert on third down, they were held to well below their season average in total plays. The Mountaineers went into the game averaging 78 plays. They ran 59 against the Orange.
What it means for West Virginia: Smith ends his career without a win over Syracuse, going 0-3. As the game went on, his frustration grew as he was taken out of his rhythm once again against a physical, aggressive defense. Now you have to wonder if he hurt his draft stock with his performance in this game. West Virginia also saw the last of Austin and Stedman Bailey, who did his part with two touchdown receptions. But the Mountaineers close the season at 7-6, a disappointing finish to their first season in the Big 12.
What it means for Syracuse: The Orange end their final season in the Big East with wins in six of their final seven games and yet another triumphant performance against their rivals. Though this was the final game for record-setting players like Ryan Nassib and Alec Lemon, the running game certainly appears to be in great hands headed into the ACC next season. Keep an eye on offensive tackle Justin Pugh, who has a decision to make about whether or not to leave school early for the NFL draft.