The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 20, 2011

WVU won't look past Syracuse

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia is a 13-point favorite to defeat Syracuse in Friday night’s Big East football game up there in the Carrier Dome.

But the 11th-ranked Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0), who haven’t forgotten last year’s 19-14 upset loss here, are not taking the Orangemen (4-2, 0-1) lightly.

“We’re never going to take them lightly,” WVU quarterback Geno Smith declared, “because we’re not that good yet. It’s very important that we get off to a strong start. Of late, we haven’t been starting fast.”

Both teams are coming off a bye week. ESPN will televise the contest which begins at 8 p.m. Friday.

West Virginia has won the last four meetings in Syracuse and, overall, had won eight straight in the series before bowing a year ago in Morgantown.

“Starting strong is something we’ve been working on,” said Smith, the Big East’s best quarterback. “We need to come out fired up and just play fast.”

He has completed 165 of 238 passes for 2,159 yards and 16 touchdowns. Only three of his throws have been intercepted.

Wide receiver Stedman Bailey leads the league with 105.7 receiving yards per game. “Getting 1,000 yards in a season is a personal goal,” he admitted. “There appears to be an opportunity to do that here.

“I just want to keep getting better. This is pretty much a big game for Syracuse and for us, too.”

Smith said, “We’ve got to continue to take the games as they come up (on the schedule), one at a time. We’re capable to win the Big East.

“We’re going to try our best against Syracuse. They have some good, big players. I look forward to each game. I’m not finished yet.

“I get excited to play football together as a team. We’ve got to come together.”

Smith recalled that he played a little bit in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse two years ago as a freshman.

“I think they’re a better team now,” he said. “So, I expect they will have a sellout crowd and that it’ll be really wild and noisy.”

Syracuse, which has won two of its three overtime games this year, needed a field goal on the last play to nip Tulane on the road 37-34. The Orange lead the all-time WVU series by 31-27.

West Virginia is averaging 40.8 points a game compared to Syracuse’s 26.7 and averaging in total offense 503.5 yards to 333.5. The breakdown offensively is 123.0 rushing by the Mountaineers to 113.2 and in passing it’s 380.5 to 220.3.

Defensively, WVU is giving up an average of 21.5 points and Syracuse 27.3 per game. In total defense, it is yielding of 301.2 yards to 397.3.  The average rushing is 119.8 to 104.3 and passing 181.3 to 293.0 per game. 

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