But despite the almost six-year gap, we can still look back fondly on Smith’s time in Morgantown and hope some of that “magic” rubs off on the ‘Eers when they take the field against Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl on Friday.
Sure, there are only three games on this list. But all were special in their own way.
1. 2010 (19-14 Syracuse win)
In his first season as a starter, Smith started 5-1 before running into a buzzsaw Syracuse defense at home. He was 20-of-37 for just 178 passing yards and a touchdown, but also threw three picks and accounted for -21 rushing yards. The Orange tallied five sacks on the day in one of the more impressive performances for Doug Marrone’s defense led by Scott Shafer.
2. 2011 (49-23 Syracuse win)
For many fans, this was among their favorite Orange games from the last decade or so. SU stomped a top-15 WVU squad in front of a national audience, picking up four sacks on Smith while the then-star quarterback remained under siege for the entire evening. He was 24-of-41 for 338 yards, two touchdowns and two INTs, plus -34 rushing yards. Smith’s stats look better because he was trying to lead a comeback that never came. The contest also served as Chandler Jones’s coming out party to the broader college football audience. Jones would continue to terrorize Smith for two years in the NFL as well while they shared the AFC East.
3. 2012 (38-14 Syracuse win)
Syracuse’s offense was too much for WVU after halftime — despite the snowy weather — and Smith could never really get comfortable. He was 16-of-24 for 197 passing yards and two scores, plus 13 rushing yards. The Orange sacked him three times. It was a miserable performance for the Mountaineers all around.
Which game was your favorite? Can the Orange pass rush make life difficult for West Virginia’s quarterbacks this time around? Even without Alton Robinson and McKinley Williams, we could be in for an entertaining evening on that front.