Syracuse University is looking to do more than just win a football game in the Camping World Bowl today. The Orange players and coaches are trying to turn a major corner in the resurgence of the program under Head Coach Dino Babers. A win over West Virginia will come with more than just the trophy.
The players are trying to become the first squad in 18 years to win 10 games in a season. And it’s the first bowl appearance for an SU team in five years. The Orange has a pretty good record in bowl games, winning 5 of the last 6 appearances.
Most recently Syracuse beat Minnesota in the Texas Bowl in 2013, 21-17. The year before, Syracuse beat the same team they face today, West Virginia, in the Pinstripe bowl, 38-14. So the Mountaineers might have a little revenge on their minds. If you go further back, the two teams both met in the Big East. Overall, Syracuse
The game also marks the finale for Senior Quarterback Eric Dungey, whose career for the Orange has been marred by injuries that have limited him in previous seasons. This year, though he’s stayed healthy and will play in what will be his last college football game. He declined to say what might come next.
“I’m just focused on this game right now,” said Dungey. “I’ll figure that (future) out afterward.”
His counterpart, WV Quarterback Will Grier will not participate itn eh game. He chose to hold himself out of the contest to avoid any injury; Grier is considered a top NFL prospect and expects to get drafted this coming year.
Syracuse will also be without some significant players. Defensive linemen Alton Robinson and McKinley Williams will be out of the game for personal reasons. Robinson was the leader of the defense in quarterback sacks.
Coach Dino Babers says win or lose, the Orange has already accomplished a lot in his third season.
“The biggest thing is reinforcement, confidence wewe have from the student body, alumni base, and the community .... To have them standing behind us and the faith, that’s the biggest accomplishment. And I think it’s already happened.”
Babers has used the extra practices to help move the program forward as well. In a number of them, he dismissed the seniors so that underclassmen, the leaders of the team next year and beyond, practiced together and took all the repetitions.
Both team’s offenses were very productive this season, SU averaging almost 470 yards of offense-a-game. Babers, though thinks it might be a different content than expects, perhaps lower scoring with defense and special teams playing a major role. If so, Syracuse would have an advantage … kicker Andre Szmyt won the Lou Groza award as the nation’s top kicker.
WAER’s coverage of the Camping World Bowl starts at 4:30 with a special Countdown To Kickoff pregame show.