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Syracuse has West Virginia fans nervous

10/23/2010

It was easy to dismiss Syracuse as a product of its schedule after the Orange fell flat on their face last week at home in a big spot against Pittsburgh.

But West Virginia is finding out that Syracuse isn't so easily brushed off.

The Orange have a surprising 19-14 lead over the No. 20 Mountaineers at halftime, and it could be worse because the Orange have had to settle for four field goals. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has showed that he is human, throwing three interceptions. Smith had only two all season coming into Saturday. Doug Hogue has two of those picks, including one he returned to the WVU 12 to set up the final score of the half. One of Smith's picks came in the end zone.

The Mountaineers have moved the ball well and have more yards than the Orange, but those turnovers have been too costly. The good news is that Noel Devine looks as healthy as he's been since before the LSU game, running for 81 yards on 13 carries in the first half.

The Orange have rushed for 132 yards in the half despite completing only two passes. The bad news is that starting running back Delone Carter went to the locker room after breaking tackles for a 46-yard second-quarter run. His status for the second half is unknown. Antwon Bailey has run well in his absence and may have to carry the load in the second half.

West Virginia -- and Smith -- need to settle down in the second half, or else the Big East race could be turned upside down.