Previewing Syracuse vs. West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl: Date, Time, Spread, How to Watch

    Who: No. 20 Syracuse (9-3) vs. No. 16 West Virginia (8-3) What: Camping World Bowl When: 5:15 p.m. ET, Friday, December 28 Where: Camping World Stadium,

    December 27, 2018

    Who: No. 20 Syracuse (9-3) vs. No. 16 West Virginia (8-3)

    What: Camping World Bowl

    When: 5:15 p.m. ET, Friday, December 28

    Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida

    Spread: Syracuse -1.5

    How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN

    West Virginia opened as a 6.5-point favorite over Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, but the line swung in the Orange’s favor after West Virginia quarterback Will Grier announced he will be sitting out of the bowl game.

    Grier, the fourth-place finisher in this season’s Heisman Trophy voting, will turn his focus to next year’s NFL Draft after completing 67 percent of his passes for 3,864 yards, 37 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

    That means backup quarterback Jack Allison, who’s 6-of-10 for 75 yards, one touchdown and one interception while playing limited snaps in four games this season, will get the start. Freshman quarterback Trey Lowe III could also see the field.

    So while the Mountaineers flexed a top-10 scoring offense and the nation’s No. 3 passing attack this season, that won’t be the team that takes the field at Camping World Stadium.

    Leading wide receiver Gary Jennings Jr. (54 receptions, 917 receiving yards, 17.0 avg., 13 TD) and offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste will also miss the bowl game.

    West Virginia has offensive weapons, but the question is if Allison can get them the ball in space. Wide receiver David Sills V (61 receptions, 896 receiving yards, 15 TD) is a proven option on the outside but the Mountaineers may become more run-oriented offensively given their personnel losses for the bowl.

    Running backs Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway have combined for 1,291 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns this season.

    The Mountaineers will need to find a way to score – and score a lot – without their NFL-bound starting quarterback. West Virginia ranks ninth in the country with 42.3 points per game, one spot ahead of Syracuse, which averages 40.8 points per game.

    The Mountaineers lost their last two games despite scoring 56 and 41 points, respectively. They won their previous three with 47, 42 and 58 points. The Orange scored at least 40 points in eight of their nine wins, including five games in which they eclipsed the half-century mark.

    While West Virginia has been an elite passing team this season, Syracuse is pretty good on the ground (207 yards/game) and through the air (261 yards/game). Add one of the nation’s best kickers, redshirt freshman Andre Szmyt, and a defense that has forced 30 turnovers, and you have a Syracuse team that won its most games in 17 years, suffering two of its three losses to playoff teams.

    Defensive end Alton Robinson has a team-high 10 sacks this season and defensive back Andre Cisco leads the team with seven interceptions, so the duo could make life difficult for Allison as West Virginia begins the post-Will Grier era.

    Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey is the engine that makes the Orange’s offense go. He has completed 60 percent of his passes this season for 2,565 yards and he’s also the team’s second-leading rusher with 732 yards. Dungey is responsible for 32 total touchdowns – 17 passing and 15 rushing.

    He was knocked out of Syracuse’s loss to Notre Dame early in the game but he bounced back to throw for 362 yards in a 42-21 win over Boston College in which he was responsible for six total touchdowns.

    Running back Moe Neal (827 rushing yards, five touchdowns) is a more efficient running option than Dungey, averaging 5.6 yards per carry to Dungey’s 4.4, and his backup Dontae Strickland (560 yards, 5.0 avg., six touchdowns) has had a productive season as the team’s third option on the ground.

    Wide receiver Jamal Custis is a big-play threat with 46 receptions for 826 yards, an average of 18 yards per reception, and a team-leading six touchdowns.

    If you need more proof that the Camping World Bowl could be a high-scoring affair, both teams rank outside of the top 100 nationally in passing yards allowed per game.

     

    Here’s a look at some of the statistical strengths and players to watch for both teams.

    Syracuse

    Offense

    Points per game: 40.8 (10th)

    Rushing yards per game: 207 (30th)

    Passing yards per game: 261 (36th)

    Field goal kicking: 28-of-32 (87.5%) (8th)

    Red zone conversion percentage: 88.4% (30th)

    Defense

    Turnover margin: +16 (3rd)

    Turnovers forced: 30 (4th)

    Opponent third down conversion percentage: 28.1% (6th)

    Opponent red zone conversion percentage: 76.6% (18th)

    Players to watch

    QB Eric Dungey – 2,565 passing yards, 60.1%, 17 passing TD, 7 INT, 732 rushing yards, 15 rushing TD

    RB Moe Neal – 827 rushing yards, 5.6 avg., 5 TD

    WR Jamal Custis – 46 receptions, 826 receiving yards, 18.0 avg., 6 TD

    LB Ryan Guthrie – 101 total tackles, 2.0 sacks

    DE Alton Robinson – 39 total tackles, 10.0 sacks, three forced fumbles

    DB Andre Cisco – 51 total tackles, nine passes deflected, seven INT

    West Virginia

    Offense

    Points per game: 42.3 (9th)

    Passing yards per game: 358 (3rd)

    Third down conversion percentage: 44.9% (24th)

    Fourth down conversion percentage: 69.2% (8th)

    Touchdown percentage in the red zone: 69.3% (26th)

    Plays from scrimmage of at least 10 yards: 204 (24th)

    Defense

    Rushing yards allowed per game: 150 (49th)

    Opponent third down conversion percentage: 36.1% (37th)

    Players to watch

    RB Kennedy McKoy – 729 rushing yards, 5.7 avg., 7 TD

    WR David Sills V – 61 receptions, 896 receiving yards, 15 TD

    LB David Long Jr. – 85 total tackles, 6.0 sacks, four passes deflected, two forced fumbles

    S Josh Norwood – 59 total tackles, 10 passes deflected

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