By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Perfect placement! That’s what it was when the Pinstripe Bowl matched up West Virginia and Syracuse for a Dec. 29 football game in New York City’s Yankee Stadium.
It’s certainly a good deal for fans of each school, so far as travel is concerned. They hardly could get closer.
The Mountaineers (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) have completed their first season in the new conference after leaving the Big East.
And Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 Big East) is moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
These two institutions’ rivalry actually dates back to 1945 and the Orangemen own a 32-27 edge in the series.
So this will be the 60th meeting. Syracuse won the last two contests, but it’s an opportunity for WVU revenge.
In accepting the bowl bid late Sunday night, Athletic Director Oliver Luck said:
“I am pleased that our football team will get the reward of playing in a bowl game. Changing conferences has been an adjustment, and I am proud of how our players have handled themselves and prepared.
“I am also excited for our fans, who will get the chance to visit a great city in close proximity to the state of West Virginia.
“I am looking forward to seeing Yankee Stadium filled with gold and blue.”
This will be the 11th postseason bowl appearance in a row, an all-time record for West Virginia.
Dana Holgorsen, WVU’s second-year head coach, thinks his team performed very well on all three sides of the ball in last Saturday’s 59-10 blowout of Kansas in the regular-season finale.
Even the much-maligned defensive unit finished strong, though it was against a team that wound up with a 1-11 record. The Jayhawks have lost 21 straight Big 12 games.
Nonetheless, Holgorsen is proud of the way the Mountaineers played in the last few games.
And well he should be. They showed improvement in shaking the five-game losing streak.
Quarterback Geno Smith left a lasting impression with a near-perfect performance. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior completed 23 of 24 passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns.
He now has 40 scores passing to rank No. 1 nationally. His two all-time great receivers also have earned nationwide recognition.
All of the student athletes now are preparing for academic final exams and the coaches are out recruiting.
Preparations for the bowl will begin later.