For the second time in three years, the Syracuse University football team is going to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. And fittingly, SU’s last football game as a member of the Big East Conference will be against one of its oldest rivals that also bolted the Big East for greener pastures.
The Orange, which won five of its last six games to improve to 7-5, will face the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Pinstripe Bowl at 3:15 p.m. on Dec. 29 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx (ESPN). The Mountaineers are also 7-5 and finished 4-5 in their first season in the Big 12 Conference.
The Orange, which won a share of the Big East title with a 5-2 conference record, owns a 32-27 advantage in the series against the Mountaineers. SU won the last two meetings, 19-14 in Morgantown in 2010 and 49-23 in the Carrier Dome last season when West Virginia was ranked No. 11 in the country. The Orange is 6-1 all-time at Yankee Stadium, including a 3-0 victory against Pittsburgh in 1923 in the first college football game ever played there.
“We are excited,” said SU coach Doug Marrone, who’s from the Bronx. “Our kids are excited. Both teams know each other. I think it’s going to be an outstanding game. I do believe it will be the best game so far with the Pinstripe Bowl.”
West Virginia won its first five games this year, including victories over then-No. 25 Baylor and then-No. 11 Texas. But the Mountaineers lost their next five games before finishing with wins against Iowa State and Kansas.
After losing 35-24 to Cincinnati Nov. 3 to fall to 4-5, the Orange defeated then-No. 10 Louisville at the Dome and Missouri and Temple on the road to earn its second bowl appearance in three years and just the second since 2004.
“I am proud of this team for the way it fought through early-season adversity to win five of the last six games and win a share of the Big East championship,” Marrone said. “It is great for our team, and particularly our seniors, to have the chance to play one more game. This senior class has given so much to our program on and off the field and will be great ambassadors for our program and university.”
Syracuse has a 13-9-1 bowl record, including a thrilling 36-34 victory over Kansas State in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl in 2010. In that game, running back Delone Carter earned Most Valuable Player honors after rushing for a career-high 198 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns. Wide receiver Marcus Sales caught five passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns, while quarterback Ryan Nassib completed 13-of-21 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns.
Nassib, who holds just about every SU passing record and ranks in the top 15 in the country in passing yards, completions and total offense, leads an offense that ranks No. 21 in the nation. Wide receiver Alec Lemon holds the Syracuse records for receptions in a season (70) and career (199), while Lemon (1,063 receiving yards) and running back Jerome Smith (1,019 rushing yards) are only the second Syracuse duo to record more than 1,000 yards each in a season.
“The Pinstripe Bowl is going to be a great game with two high-powered offenses going head to head,” Nassib said. “It will be my last time wearing the Syracuse Orange jersey, and my last time representing the Orange on the football field, so it is going to be a lot of fun for me and the other seniors. This is like our Super Bowl.”
SU has created a variety of fan packages that include
various combinations of tickets, travel options, hotel accommodations
and access to pre-game activities. Tickets start at $50. Tickets and
travel packages are available online at the official Syracuse Athletics
Bowl site at
suathletics.com/bowlcentral. All SU students are invited to purchase tickets for $25 (limit of two).