Syracuse, NY Ryan Nassib threw three touchdown passes to tight end Nick Provo, Dorian Graham returned a kickoff 98 yards for another score, and Syracuse stunned No. 11 West Virginia 49-23 on Friday night with a spirited effort on both sides of the ball.
Syracuse (5-2, 1-1 Big East) hadn’t beaten West Virginia (5-2, 1-1) in the Carrier Dome in a decade, and the Orange played a near flawless game to break the streak just as they did last year in a 19-14 upset of the Mountaineers in Morgantown. That victory stopped an eight-game losing streak to West Virginia, and this one was even more impressive.
Syracuse hadn’t scored that many points in the series since a 45-0 win in 1960, and a Carrier Dome crowd of 45,265, the largest in three years, roared its approval with thunderous cheers as third-year head coach Doug Marrone enjoyed the most significant win of his brief tenure.
The high-powered West Virginia offense led by Geno Smith was kept in check most of the game, only shining in fits and spurts.
West Virginia entered the game averaging 40.8 points and 503.5 yards offensively and finished with 408 against the hard-hitting Syracuse defense.
Smith was 24 of 41 for 338 yards and two touchdowns, and his interceptions came at critical junctures — the first at the Orange goal line and the second on the final play of the third quarter when the game was still within reach.
Stedman Bailey had seven catches for 130 yards and one touchdown and Tavon Austin had six catches for 60 yards for West Virginia.
Nassib was 24 of 32 for 229 yards and four touchdowns and no turnovers, also hitting David Stevens on a 29-yarder midway through the third quarter that gave Syracuse a 28-16 lead.
Both teams, off last week, had plenty of time to gameplan and Syracuse devised a winning formula.
Smith entered the game ranked fifth nationally in passing yardage at 359.3 yards per game, nearly 26 yards more than the Orange as a team.
Undaunted, Syracuse built a 12-point halftime lead and when West Virginia tried to rally in the second half, Syracuse had an answer and then some.
When Smith guided the Mountaineers 57 yards in 14 plays and Shawne Alston scored on a 1-yard run on the first possession of the third quarter, the Orange struck right back in just six plays.
Nassib thwarted a blitz by hitting Van Chew for 6 yards on a third-and-5 play and then hit a wide-open Stevens along the left side inside the Mountaineers 10 for a 29-yard score.