Camping World Bowl Preview: Expect an Orange victory

Camping World Bowl Preview: Expect an Orange victory

Commentary: Syracuse has the motivation to come out on top against West Virginia.
Published: December 24, 2018
Eric Dungey runs against Louisville's defense in the Orange's win on Nov. 9, 2018.
Eric Dungey runs against Louisville's defense in the Orange's win on Nov. 9, 2018.

With Syracuse men’s basketball struggling, thank goodness it is technically still football season. And make no mistake; SU is now a football school.

On Dec. 28th, the Orange (9-3, 2nd in ACC Atlantic) will take on West Virginia (8-3, 3rd in Big 12) in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando. It’s Syracuse’s first bowl game since 2013, and it’s a big one. The Camping World Bowl is considered the second-best ACC bowl game only behind the Orange Bowl, with a payout of nearly $6 million. It will be a chance for the Orange to secure its 10th win, and to send senior quarterback Eric Dungey out in style.

The Breakdown:

When this bowl pairing was announced, all the talk was about “Eric Dungey vs. Will Grier.” But that is not going to be the case. West Virginia’s star quarterback won’t play in the game in order to prepare for the NFL Draft. It is an enormous loss for the Mountaineers, as Grier was one of the best QB’s in the country all season. He tallied 3,864 yards with 37 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also finished fourth in the Heisman voting. With him out, I’m sure many Syracuse fans think the Orange have this one in the bag. I wouldn’t be so sure.

The next man up at QB for West Virginia is redshirt sophomore Jack Allison. He is a former 4-star Under Armour All-American recruit who transferred from Miami. He’s no Grier, but he’s got a lot of potential. Mountaineer Head Coach Dana Holgerson also said third string QB Trey Lowe III will see the field as well. Lowe was a 3-star prospect in WVU’s 2018 class. However, he hasn’t played a down all season. Expect to see much more of Allison against the SU defense.

Another big blow for West Virginia came just recently when Gary Jennings, their number one wide receiver, announced he would also be skipping the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Jennings played with a high ankle sprain throughout the regular season and doesn’t want to risk further injury.

While the Mountaineers are losing weapons, the Orange is adding them. Transfer running back Abdul Adams and transfer wide receiver Trishton Jackson will both be eligible to play in the bowl game. Adams is a former 4-star prospect who was a standout running back at Oklahoma. He averaged 9.2 yards per carry in 2017 as a sophomore with the Sooners and rushed for 825 yards and a touchdown on 112 carries. He can flat out play.

Jackson is also a former 4-star. The wide out transferred from Michigan State, where he finished his sophomore season with 12 catches for 143 yards. Having both of them active will add explosiveness to an already dangerous Orange offense.

Of course, we can’t preview this bowl game without talking about one of the greatest to ever don an Orange uniform. Syracuse quarterback Dungey will play in his final college game; a night guaranteed to be emotional for SU fans everywhere. Dungey has thrown for over 9,000 yards and has rushed for over 1,000 in his four seasons, scoring 92 touchdowns. He is also responsible for 18 school records. Just imagine if he had been consistently healthy! Look for Dungey to play his heart out in his last game. I expect a huge night. A really, really amazing stat line.

Prediction:

The Syracuse defense doesn’t have to worry about Will Grier, and, honestly, that makes this game so much different. Jack Allison is no scrub, but he doesn’t present a challenge anywhere close to what Grier would have brought to the table. Look for Orange defensive coordinator Brian Ward to put a lot of pressure on Allison, and for Alton Robinson (2nd in the ACC in sacks) and Kendall Coleman (6th) to have a big night.

And remember, West Virginia comes from the Big 12, where defense doesn’t exist. The Mountaineers rank 74th nationally in total defense. They will have to go up against Eric Dungey, and, not to mention, an already loaded SU backfield that now adds Abdul Adams to the mix. Yep. Moe Neal, Dontae Strickland, Jarveon Howard, and Adams. Good luck, West Virginia!

Another thing to consider: motivation. West Virginia isn’t exactly thrilled to be in this bowl game. Late in the season, they were 8-1 and still had College Football Playoff aspirations. Then they lost to Oklahoma State by four and Oklahoma by three, and then got passed up by the Sugar Bowl AND the Alamo Bowl.

As for ‘Cuse, this completes what has been a dream season. NOBODY expected the Orange to be in this position. They are 9-3 and playing in a prestigious bowl game, and instead of what looked like a likely Pinstripe Bowl appearance, the guys get to go to Orlando. Syracuse will be fired up and ready to roll. They will want this a lot more than Will Grier-less West Virginia. Dino Babers and company roll to win number 10.

Score Prediction: Syracuse 38, West Virginia 24

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is a contributor to The NewsHouse at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.