Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

December 4, 2012

West Virginia the opponent as Syracuse makes return to Pinstripe Bowl

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse is headed back to the Pinstripe Bowl for the second time in three years and will face former Big East foe West Virginia Dec. 29 at Yankee Stadium.

Syracuse (7-5) won five of its last six games to capture a share of the Big East championship with a 5-2 league mark. The Mountaineers (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) completed the regular season with a 59-10 win over Kansas.

This is the 11th straight bowl trip for West Virginia, which started the season with five straight wins and was ranked as high as fifth before five straight losses.

“We finished the season strong with two straight wins, and I am glad our players get the reward of playing in a bowl game,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Playing in New York City will provide a national stage and Yankee Stadium will be a great venue for our seniors to finish their careers.”

It will be Syracuse’s 24th bowl appearance overall. The Orange is 13-9-1 all-time and 4-2 against the Big 12 in the postseason. Before its 36-34 victory two years ago over Kansas State in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl, Syracuse had not played in a bowl game since losing 51-14 to Georgia Tech in the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl.

“It means a great deal to us to play a bowl game in Yankee Stadium where many of our alumni and fans will have the opportunity to share it with us,” said Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, a native of the Bronx. “New York state is the foundation of our program. It is great for our team, and particularly our seniors, to have the chance to play one more game. This senior class has given so much to our program on and off the field.” The Orange is leaving the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season; the Mountaineers bolted the Big East for the Big 12 prior to the 2012 season.

Syracuse leads the all-time series with West Virginia 32-27, winning the last two meetings after eight straight Mountaineers wins. Before 2012, the two teams had met annually since 1955.

Syracuse has a rich football history in New York City and the metropolitan area. The Orange is 6-1 all-time at Yankee Stadium, including a 3-0 victory against Pittsburgh in 1923 in the first college football game ever played in the original ballpark.

The inaugural Pinstripe two years ago also featured the Big East against the Big 12 in the first bowl in New York since the Gotham Bowl matched Nebraska and Miami at Yankee Stadium in 1962. Rutgers beat Iowa State 27-13 in last year’s Pinstripe.

Prior to its first appearance in the Pinstripe, Syracuse suspended defensive tackle Andrew Lewis and linebacker Brice Hawkes for violating team rules. This time, starting linebacker Marquis Spruill and running back Steve Rene are facing an uncertain future.

The two juniors were charged after an alleged drunken altercation near campus involving Syracuse police early Sunday. Rene, a performer mostly on special teams, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Spruill, who has started every game in his college career and ranks fourth on the team in tackles, was charged with disorderly conduct and second-degree harassment.

Police said both men appeared drunk.

Marrone said he was “aware of the situation and will handle it in the appropriate fashion.”

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