Seems like it wasn’t that long ago that if a college football team had a good season they were rewarded with a trip to a bowl game. That destination would typically be somewhere in the south, southwest, California or Arizona. A game played in a place where the temperature had a chance to be warm.
Of course it wouldn’t always work out that way. I’ve seen bowl games played in snow in Shreveport and El Paso and Boise. Of course snow in Boise in December is normal, plus, if it snows, you don’t have to look at that hideous blue field.
Anyway, three years ago the New York Yankee organization decided they wanted to have a bowl game in Yankee Stadium and the Pinstripe Bowl was born. Yours truly was immediately skeptical of a bowl game in this venue. Mainly because the game is outdoors in December in the Bronx. It will likely be cold and any precipitation has a good chance of being white.
Such was the case last Saturday when West Virginia University’s football team was manhandled by Syracuse in a cold and snowy Pinstripe Bowl. The final score of 38-14 marks WVU’s third consecutive loss to Syracuse and the second consecutive lopsided beat down.
Yes, the weather was a factor. West Virginia’s vaunted passing attack was hamstrung by the conditions. Syracuse also had some trouble passing the ball, but what they didn’t struggle doing was running the football. West Virginia had looked respectable against the run all year while its pass defense was being shredded to pieces. In fact, the Mountaineers had not allowed any opposing runner a 100-yard rushing game all season. On Saturday Syracuse had two as the Orange piled up 369 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile WVU could come up with just 88 yards on the ground on a day when running the football effectively was pretty much a necessity in order to win the game. To be fair, WVU had a significant number of successful plays nullified by penalties some of which looked more imagined than real.
The loss leaves the Mountaineers with a 7-6 record for the 2012 season. Disappointing considering the team started out 5-0.
What happens next year? Considering that three (Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey) of the best offensive weapons to ever play at WVU are moving on, there will be some new faces that will have big shoes to fill next season on offense. It will be interesting to watch and see who steps up, but some growing pains could lead to a rare losing season.