Big East Betting Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers at Syracuse Orange

#15 West Virginia Mountaineers at Syracuse Orange
Carrier Dome – Syracuse, New York
Friday, October 21, 2011, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: West Virginia -14
Current Line: West Virginia -14
Opening Total: 57 1/2
Current Total: 58
Opening Money Line: West Virginia -600 / Syracuse +450
Current Money Line: West Virginia -550 / Syracuse +425

West Virginia and Syracuse meet for the 59th time Friday at the Carrier Dome. West Virginia is a 14 point favorite on the road.

West Virginia and Syracuse meet for the 59th time Friday night. Syracuse leads the series 31-27, including 19-14 last year in Morgantown. Before that, West Virginia had won 8 straight in the series. This could be one of the last times the two rivals meet as Syracuse is moving to the ACC in a couple of years, and West Virginia will reportedly be invited to join the Big 12 in the future. West Virginia is 5-1 this season under first year coach Dana Holgorsen, and is ranked #15 in the first BCS standings released last week. The only loss came at home to #1 LSU 47-21. West Virginia has home wins over Marshall 34-13, Norfolk St 55-12, Bowling Green 55-10, and two weeks ago against Connecticut 43-16, along with a 37-31 win at Maryland. Syracuse is coached by Doug Marrone and is 4-2 this season. The Orange have home wins over Wake Forest 36-29 in overtime, 21-14 over Rhode Island, and 33-30 in overtime against Toledo, along with a road win 2 weeks ago at Tulane 37-34. The Orange have losses at USC 38-17 and at home against Rutgers 19-16 in double overtime. With only the USC game a blowout, Syracuse could be anywhere from 1-5 to 5-1 this season.

West Virginia was a 19 point favorite on the college football betting line two weeks ago at home against UConn. The Mountaineers were struggling at halftime as they only led 10-9, but West Virginia scored 33 unanswered points to take a commanding 43-9 lead in the fourth quarter. UConn ran back an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make the final 43-16. West Virginia had 541 total yards in the rout including 469 passing yards. Mountaineer QB Geno Smith threw for 450 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions. The Mountaineers only ran for 72 yards, but Dustin Garrison had 80 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Stedman Bailey had 7 catches, 178 yards, and 2 scores in the blowout. Ivan McCartney had 6 catches for 131 yards. UConn only had 275 total yards including 82 rushing yards. The Huskies did not score an offensive touchdown in the game. West Virginia scored a safety in the third quarter.  The game featured 15 penalties and 3 turnovers, 2 by West Virginia.

The Mountaineers are averaging 503.5 yards a game, including 380.5 passing yards. West Virginia is #11 in total offense the passing game is ranked #4 in the country. West Virginia is averaging 40.8 points, which is #13 in college football. West Virginia has 9 turnovers and has allowed 7 sacks. The Mountaineers are 41/91 on third and fourth down conversions, and 30/32 scoring in the red zone with 21 touchdowns. West Virginia is allowing 301.2 total yards a game, including 181.3 passing yards a game. Both are ranked #17 in the country.  The Mountaineers are allowing 21.5 points a game. The Mountaineers have forced 9 turnovers and 8 sacks. West Virginia opponents are 31/96 on third and fourth down conversions, and 16/20 scoring in the red zone with 9 touchdowns. The Mountaineers have 2 defensive/special teams touchdowns, but have given up 3

Smith is 165/258 passing, for 2,159 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, along with 13 carries for 6 yards. Garrison has 63 carries, 436 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 94 yards. Vernard Roberts has 44 carries, 140 yards,  and 3 scores, along with 4 catches. Roberts missed the UConn game but is expected to play against Syracuse.  Andrew Buie has 28 carries, 99 yards, and a touchdown, along with 6 catches. He is questionable Friday with a collarbone injury. Shawne Alston has 20 carries, 91 yards, and 2 touchdowns.  Bailey has 34 catches, 634 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Tavon Austin has 42 catches, 564 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Austin has over 1,100 all purpose yards for the Mountaineers. McCartney has 34 catches, 455 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Tyler Urban has 2 touchdown catches, and Brad Starks has 3. Kicker Tyler Bitancurt is 30/30 on extra points and 11/12 on field goals with a long of 45 yards. Linebacker Josh Rigg and offensive lineman Josh Jenkins are both out for the season.

Syracuse played at Tulane two weeks ago. The Orange were up 31-24 at halftime after a wild second quarter than featured 38 points combined. Tulane outscored them 10-6 in the second half to make the final 37-34 Syracuse, but the Orange failed to cover the 9.5 point college football betting line. Syracuse only had 356 total yards including 170 rushing yards and 21 first downs. Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns, and rushed for another one. Running back Antwon Bailey had 24 carries, 111 yards, and a touchdown plus 4 catches for 34 yards. Receiver Dorian Graham had 4 catches for 55 yards, and 2 scores. Tulane had 471 total yards including 355 passing yards. The Green Wave were unable to overcome 7 penalties and 2 turnovers.

Syracuse is averaging 333.5 yards a game including 220.3 passing yards and 113.2 rushing yards a game. The Orange are averaging 26.7 points a game. The Orange have 9 turnovers and have allowed 12 sacks this season. Syracuse is 37/90 on third and fourth down conversions, and 23/28 scoring in the red zone with 14 touchdowns. The Orange are allowing 397.3 total yards a game including 293 passing yards and 104.3 rushing yards. Syracuse is allowing 27.3 points a game. The Orange have forced 11 turnovers and 13 sacks this season. Syracuse opponents are 49/108 on third and fourth down conversions, and 18/21 scoring in the red zone with 8 touchdowns. The Orange have one defensive touchdown this season.

Nassib is 124/192 passing with 1,294 yards, 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also has a rushing touchdown.  Bailey has 124 carries, 553 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 90 yards. Back-up Prince Tyson-Gulley is out for the season with a broken collarbone, but he only had 18 carries for 89 yards. Receiver Alec Lemon has 31 catches 322 yards and 3 touchdowns. Van Chew has 20 catches 299 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Nick Provo has 22 catches, 265 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Dorian Graham has 13 catches and 2 touchdowns. Kicker Ross Krautman is 17/18 on extra points and 9/12 on field goals with a long of 33 yards.

Syracuse is 2-4 against the spread this season and the total is 4-2 this season.  West Virginia is 3-3 ATS and 5 of those 6 games have gone over the total. The last 2 games have gone under the total in the WVU-Syracuse series. The Mountaineers are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 conference games, 5-1 following a bye week, 4-1 in road games, 6-2-1 after a cover, 9-3 against teams with winning records, 5-2 in the last 7 as a road favorite of 10.5 points or more, and 4-10-1 as a favorite of 10.5 points or more. The Orange are 5-0 ATS following a bye week, 2-7-1 as a home dog of 10.5 points or greater, 1-4 as a home dog, against teams with winning records, and overall, 1-6 as an underdog of 10.5 points or more, and 0-6 following a straight up win.

Though West Virginia is clearly the better team, this Syracuse team is gritty, and will hang around. USC is the only team that blew them out, and part of that was having to travel across country. Syracuse  has already played 3 overtime games this season in 6 games. I think the Orange will keep this closer than people think, and have a fighting chance to pull off the upset.

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