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Syracuse vs. West Virginia: Camping World Bowl preview and predictions

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  • Tony Dungy
    Tony Dungy
    Football player

Syracuse (9-3) vs. West Virginia (8-3)

Location: Orlando | When: Dec. 28 (5:15 p.m. ET) | TV: ESPN | Line: Syracuse -1.5

HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE

Syracuse: The Orange started the season 4-0 before consecutive losses to Clemson and Pitt. The Pitt loss didn’t make much sense at the time, but Syracuse at least has the consolation that Pitt won the ACC Coastal. The Orange then won four more consecutive games before getting throttled 36-3 by Notre Dame. A 42-21 victory over Boston College ended the season and put the Orange at 9-3.

Dana Holgorsen’s team is going for nine wins without its starting QB. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Dana Holgorsen’s team is going for nine wins without its starting QB. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

West Virginia: The Mountaineers began the season a game better at 5-0 before losing 30-14 to Iowa State. That loss was followed by three-straight wins, including a 42-41 victory at Texas. That win over the Longhorns put West Virginia in the driver’s seat for a Big 12 title game appearance. And WVU promptly let someone else take the wheel. West Virginia lost 45-41 at Oklahoma State and then 59-56 at home to Oklahoma to allow Texas to play the Sooners for the conference title.

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WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH

These are two really good offenses. When they’re at full strength. If you’re a hardcore fan, you don’t need much prodding to watch this game. If you’re a casual fan, well, can we interest you in seeing what the QB position will look like for West Virginia in the future?

Eric Dungey has thrown for 17 touchdowns and rushed for 15 in 2018. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)
Eric Dungey has thrown for 17 touchdowns and rushed for 15 in 2018. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse: If you’ve seen a Syracuse game this year, you know who Dungey is. We’re not going deep by pointing him out. But the Camping World Bowl is his last in a Syracuse uniform and he’s been spectacular this season. Dungey plays with a reckless abandon and that playing style has typically limited him to eight or nine games a season. While he missed most of the Notre Dame game, Dungey played in all 12 games for the first time in his career. He’s 205-of-343 passing for 2,565 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s also the team’s leading rusher with 732 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Jack Allison, QB, West Virginia: Welcome to bowl season, Jack Allison. Here’s your first career start. Allison is starting for Will Grier, who is sitting out the game to get his prep started for the 2019 NFL draft. Grier threw nearly 400 passes for over 3,800 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2018. Allison threw 10 total passes this season. He completed six of them for 75 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Those 10 passes are the only ones the sophomore has thrown. He sat out the entire 2017 season as a freshman.

Allison won’t have star wide receiver Gary Jennings Jr., either. He’s sitting out the game citing an ankle injury. All-Big 12 left tackle Yodny Cajuste is sitting out too.

WHAT’S ON THE LINE

Syracuse: The Orange haven’t been to a bowl game since the 2013 season. And Syracuse hasn’t had a 10-win season since the 2001 season under Paul Pasqualoni.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers are going for a bowl victory for the first time since the 2015 Cactus Bowl. A win means a 9-3 season and just the second nine-win (or more) season since 2011.

PREDICTIONS

Nick Bromberg: Syracuse 38, West Virginia 27
Sam Cooper: Syracuse 33, West Virginia 28
Pat Forde: Syracuse 43, West Virginia 31

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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