Pinstripe Bowl Odds
The West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5) and the Syracuse Orange (7-5) will meet Saturday, Dec. 29 at 3:15 PM ET in the Pinstripe Bowl, which will take place at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. ESPN has the coverage. Oddsmakers have listed West Virginia as a four-point favorite and have set the total at 73.5.
Why West Virginia Covers
The West Virginia passing attack could be too much for Syracuse too handle. Led by star quarterback Geno Smith, the Mountaineers rank fifth in the nation in passing offense with 340.7 yards per game.
Smith has had a remarkable season. He has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 4,001 yards with 40 touchdowns and six interceptions. He could be poised for a big day against a Syracuse defense that has struggled in pass defense.
The Orange rank 65th in the country against the pass with 236.9 yards allowed per game. They were torched through the air by the likes of Pittsburgh, Louisville and Missouri, and none of these teams have a passing attack like the one they’ll see in this game.
It is significant that Syracuse has allowed its opponents to complete 63.1 percent of their passes this season. Consider that West Virginia is on a 10-1 against the spread run in road/neutral field contests versus teams that allow a completion percentage of 62.0 percent of higher. The Mountaineers have won by an average score of 36.8 to 16.0 in these contests.
Why Syracuse Covers
The Orange enter this contest with plenty of momentum and confidence on their side. They have won each of their last three games and five of their last six. They defeated a Louisville team that’s headed to the Sugar Bowl by 19 points during this stretch.
Syracuse has had the upper hand in this series of late. It has won each of the last two meetings and buried the Mountaineers 49-23 in last season’s showdown.
West Virginia is one of the worst defensive teams in the country. It ranks 116th in scoring defense with 38.1 points allowed per game and 111th in total defense with 469.6 yards allowed per contest. The Mountaineers have especially struggled against the pass. Their pass defense ranks 123rd in the nation with 327.1 yards allowed per game. A Syracuse passing attack that ranks 22nd in the country with 300.6 yards per game should be able to take advantage.
Senior quarterback Ryan Nassib has quietly had a fantastic campaign. He has completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 3,607 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He outdueled Smith in last season’s matchup, completing 24 of 32 passes for 229 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Nassib has starred in this bowl game before as well. He threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-34 win over Kansas State in the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl.
The Mountaineers have not been a good investment when playing points on a neutral field. In fact, they are on a 0-7 against the spread slide as a neutral field favorite and have lost these contests by an average score of 29.3 to 26.0.
I have picked Syracuse to win this game. Be sure to check out the rest of my college bowl predictions by following this link. For more expert takes on this showdown, check out what Jack Jones, Brandon Lee, Vegas Top Cappers and Carolina Sports have to say about this game.