For the fifth consecutive season, West Virginia Football is going to a bowl game.
This year, WVU will be playing old Big East rival, the Syracuse Orange in Orlando, Florida in the Camping World Bowl at Camping World Stadium.
Kick-off is set for 5:15 p.m. on Friday, December 28.
The last time West Virginia and Syracuse met was in 2012 in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Orange won that contest, 38-14.
The Mountaineers will be rolling out a different look team than what it did during the regular season.
Star quarterback Will Grier- who finished fourth in the Heisman voting- will not be playing as he prepares himself for the NFL Draft in April.
One of his favorite targets, Gary Jennings, will also miss the game. Jennings is dealing with some minor injuries and does not want to put himself at more of a risk of injury going toward the draft.
Yodny Cajuste, the starting left tackle, will also miss the bowl game with injury and the NFL in mind. The senior went down with an injury in the last game of the season against Oklahoma.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen said that both quarterbacks on the roster will get playing time. They are redshirt sophomore and Miami transfer Jack Allison and freshman Trey Lowe.
With Grier not on the roster next season, WVU needs to start looking and assessing the quarterback situation for next year now.
One of WVU’s standout seniors is going to be suiting up in Orlando, however.
Wide receiver David Sills is going to be playing in his final game in a West Virginia uniform. Sills has 61 catches for 896 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2018. His 15 scores are good enough for second in the nation and first on the Mountaineers.
Last season, when Grier went down with an injury, Sills only had 124 yards and no touchdowns. He had no catches in the bowl game.
West Virginia had one of the best offenses in the country, but it will look completely different against Syracuse. Expect more involvement from the running backs, especially with offensive coordinator Jake Spavital now the head coach at Texas State.
Syracuse is led by Eric Dungey on offense. Dungey has 2,565 yards in the air with 17 touchdowns and a 60 percent completion percentage. The senior can make plays with his legs, too. On the ground, he had 732 yards and 15 touchdowns (that mark led the team in that category).
When their receivers, Jamal Custis and Sean Riley, both have over 100 yards, it has spelled out good things for the Orange. Both guys have surpassed 730 yards on the season.
Syracuse’s defense allows almost 28 points per game on the season. That unit lost Alton Robinson this week, as he will miss out on the bowl game. Robinson had 10 sacks and 17 tackles for loss on the season. Maybe the Mountaineer offense can exploit this.
Andre Cisco intercepted seven passes and broke up 11 of them during the regular season.
With Grier and other offensive pieces missing, it will be hard for WVU to pull off a win. This will be its fourth bowl game defeat in the last five seasons.
Prediction: Syracuse 35, West Virginia 28