Camping World Bowl (Syracuse v. West Virginia)
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Passing: Syracuse takes a substantial step back from their home statistics. They lose 2 full yards per attempt on the road as well as a 7 percent drop in completion percentage. There is a 90 yard drop in passing yards on the road this season. There’s also a 41 point drop in QB rating, half the number of touchdowns and 2.5 times the number of interceptions.
Rushing: Syracuse has a surprisingly small difference between home and away. They’ve averaged 2.5 more attempts on the road and totaled one more touchdown. The only other statistic that seems to suggest anything major, they average a yard less per carry.
Passing: There is not a huge difference between Syracuse’s home and road defense. They allow slightly more touchdowns and interceptions on the road, but the numbers are only marginally different.
Rushing: The Orange’s rushing defense has been substantially worse on the road. They are averaging 1.7 more yards allowed per carry. They’ve faced 4 more attempts when on the road and have yielded 5 more touchdowns. They also allow more than 80 additional yards per game on the road.
Passing: Offensively for West Virginia, the road has been pretty good to them. They haven’t managed as many touchdowns on the road as at home, but the 14 they’ve scored on the road is plenty “reasonable”. Add in that they have thrown only one interception on the road and are averaging 8.9 yards per attempt, there’s definitely a legitimate threat. I’m sure Mountaineers fans would like to have the 24 touchdowns they’ve scored at home with 10.3 yards per attempt, but the 8 interceptions would make me nervous.
Rushing: The Mountaineers haven’t been substantially different by venue, aside from touchdowns. They’ve scored double the rushing touchdowns at home with a few more attempts (+5) compared to away. There’s only about 0.3 yards per carry difference between their home and away effectiveness. They average 140+ rushing yards per game.
Passing: As good as the passing offense is, the defense hasn’t been able to keep up. They’ve allowed double the touchdowns to be scored on the road (14) than they allow at home. Their interception numbers also decrease (albeit only from 7 to 6 — and they’ve played one more game at home). The yards per attempt aren’t markedly different by venue, but they allow a 20 point higher QB rating on 5 additional attempts.
Rushing: The Mountaineers rush defense allows 1.2 yards more per attempt away from home and they face about 8 more opponents attempts. They allow the same number of touchdowns regardless of venue but there is an 80 yard rush difference.
The game is played at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida with kickoff at 2:15 PM PST/ 5:15 PM EST. The neutrals are expecting nearly 70 points to be scored, and for Syracuse to be slight favorites.
Keys to a win for each side
- Simple passing game. Syracuse has struggled with turnovers in the passing game. Yes, their completion rate is also down a bit — but it’s the turnovers that make me nervous. Syracuse clearly has the ability, they just need to keep the passing game simple and focus on the easy pass.
- Home runs not included. When I see statistics like theirs, I focus on the interceptions. Right away it tells me one thing, this team tries to go for everything. They need to settle down and not try to get all the yards with one pass (especially on the road). Focusing too much on the long ball sets the quarterback up for split second reads with lasting impacts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Custis in some double coverage situations, which means someone else is open. Make the easy pass.
- Control the game. Syracuse needs to take control early and make West Virginia either predictable or to rush their decisions. I have zero doubts about the Syracuse offense’s ability to keep up in this game, my question is all about their defenses ability to make plays to get West Virginia’s offense of the field.
- Run the ball. West Virginia should be aiming to take advantage of Syracuse’s rushing defense. It’s much worse at home and should be an advantage easily gained. Syracuse averages 80 yards more allowed and 5 more touchdowns on the season. This is an opportunity to get in the Syracuse player’s heads early.
- Run and gun. Once the run is established, the Mountaineers need to air it out too. Their road statistics are great — only 1 interception on the season while averaging 9 yards per attempt. Syracuse’s passing defense does fine on the road, but if they have to start stacking the box to avoid the run — this could be a recipe for disaster.
- Keep your heads. Good sound football has been a huge reason why they have that 16 by their names. They’ve made good decisions with the ball and minimized turnovers and that’s what they need to continue to do. In my mind, I think West Virginia has a great opportunity to hang some points on Syracuse — but they can’t play so aggressively they set Syracuse up for success instead.