Syracuse vs. West Virginia: The Devine Problem

Last week, even Syracuse fans were confused to see the Orange favored in a Big East game that didn't include Louisville. We wondered if it was such a good thing to have that kind of boost, so soon.

Well, be careful what you wish for. For making Vegas look bad, the Orange are once again the heavy underdog this week, currently a 14-point underdog to West Virginia.

So what do we know of the Mountaineers? They are, at least record-wise at 5-1, the best team in the Big East. After whipping up on Coastal Carolina to start the year, they had a helluva time with Marshall, needing a last-minute TD to send the game into overtime where they escaped with a win. After that was a so-so win over Maryland, followed by a tough loss at LSU.  The LSU loss doesn't look too bad right now, with the Tigers undefeated in the top ten. Since then WVU has rattled off some impressive victories, a 49-10 shutdown of UNLV and a 20-6 win over USF, though we know the Bulls don't have much going on offensively at the moment.

Another season, another run-in with Noel Devine. Devine torched the Orange for 91 yards and 2 TDs last year in WVU's 34-13 win. The year before that he ran for 118 yards and a TD. As you can imagine, we're not looking forward to seeing him again.

That said, Devine is in the midst of a funk, thanks to a foot injury suffered against LSU. He gained 84 yards on only three carries against UNLV and was only able to muster29 yards on 13 carries against USF.  In fact, the Mountaineers seem to be 5-1 in spite of their running troubles all season:

"We've been a really good running team the first two years," Mullen said.  "This year, we've not been able to establish that as much as we'd like. I think from that standpoint, we're all very, very happy being 5-1."

I don't need to tell you that WVU has dominated us in recent years. In fact, if they keep beating us, they're going to break records that have stood for almost 90 years.

A win against the Orange, which has lost eight straight in the Schwartzwalder Trophy series and last won at Mountaineer Field in 2000, would leave West Virginia one win shy of matching the home winning streak record set from 1924-26.

Bill Stewart says he's impressed with the job Doug Marrone is doing in Syracuse and WVU fans are beginning to be impressed by Stewart. Once thought not long for this job, Stewart has a pretty good approval rating at the moment. If he can keep it up and win the Big East, he might just be in this for the long haul.

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