Next season they’ll be in the ACC, but Syracuse had a proper send off to their Big East days by dominating and winning in the New Era Pinstripe bowl, that wouldn’t allow two pass happy teams to put the ball in the air, so they simply had to work on the ground. Prince-Tyson Gulley did the rest of the work for the Orange from there.
Gulley ran for 208 yards on 25 carries, scoring two touchdowns as Syracuse wiped the snow with West Virginia, beating the Mountaineers 38-14, breaking away with a 23-7 third quarter. For Gulley, it was about a third of his previous running total achieved in one night. Needless to say, it was the best game of his career.
He was 8 yards short of Syracuse’s bowl game record, which belongs to Floyd Little in 1966 with 216 in the Gator Bowl. This was Gulley’s best game in his career after previously never running for over 100 yards. He also set career highs with 25 carries and 264 yards from scrimmage.
Gulley wasn’t alone in the ground-wrecking business against a defense that has been the worst, or somewhere near that, in the nation this season. Another running back Junior, who was a bit more prominent this season, Jerome Smith, had his fun in the snow as well. He ran for 157 yards on 30 carries, as Syracuse ended up with a total of 511 yards, 369 of them on the ground. Ryan Nassib might have been the star of this team, but the quarterback finished with only 134 yards (12-24), two touchdown passes and an interception. There was no use going through the air in this kind of weather, while the West Virginia defense allowed so much to happen on the ground.
While Syracuse were putting up record breaking numbers on the ground, the Mountaineers, with so many problems in their offensive line, could only dream of the kind of offensive clinic they put on earlier this season and especially in last season’s bowl game against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Geno Smith wasn’t intercepted and threw two touchdown passes, but he felt the pressure too often as Syracuse scored with two safeties as well. Bound to go with a running game, Tavon Austin finished with 54 yards on 12 carries, as the Mountaineers weren’t even close to doing enough in a game that got away from them too quickly, partially blinded by the snow.
It’s been that kind of season for them. After a 5-0 start came five consecutive conference losses. Talks of national championship and Heisman trophies evaporated once their defense was exposed and exposed again, too much for a talented offense to keep up with.
For Syracuse, after a rough start, it was an ending that included beating Louisville. Finishing the season 8-5, looking back at their losses to Northwestern, Minnesota and Rutgers, this could have been a much better send off from their Big East days than they actually had.
In the end, it was about the snow, and overcoming it. Something West Virginia Couldn’t do. The football Gods from Syracuse brought us some snow and it changed even West Virginia’s game. They had to run a little bit more than they were used to. We ran the ball a little bit more than we’re used to and did what we were supposed to do.