There was a time when West Virginia played physical football.
Right now, WVU is soft.
Syracuse, an average team, bullied the Mountaineers Friday night en route to a 49-23 victory at the Carrier Dome.
In just three short years, Doug Marrone has been a miracle worker at his alma mater. Syracuse has defeated WVU in consecutive seasons and is now 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big East.
The loss by the Mountaineers basically robbed the Big East of any credibility this year as WVU was the lone hope to be a respectable BCS representative. WVU could still win the Big East, but the luster is gone from a program that basically begged the SEC to let it be the 14th member.
On this night, Syracuse won every aspect of the game.
On defense, the Orange pushed around the Mountaineers and got in quarterback Geno Smith’s face all night. Smith looked lost, much like he did last year.
All week, WVU talked about redemption over the upset loss in Morgantown. Instead, it was Syracuse who showed up ready to play. The Orange also had a much better game plan.
It also seems odd following an off week that WVU’s first-year coach Dana Holgorsen didn’t get a lot of wrinkles ironed out.
Instead, there seems to be more question marks.
The biggest confusion, though, was with WVU’s defense. Since when does Ryan Nassib look like a Heisman candidate? Well, when he plays the Mountaineers.
Jeff Casteel is a great defensive coordinator, but Friday’s loss showed off some glaring issues with his schemes for the game.
Four times Nassib connected with the tight end for touchdowns. It doesn’t help that WVU can’t pressure the quarterback, even with super end Bruce Irvin.
The defense doesn’t create turnovers either, and they couldn’t get Syracuse’s offense off the field.
Hell, I lost count of how many third-down conversions the Orange converted.
What makes Syracuse’s performance so confusing was how the Orange had played in its previous six games.
SU needed overtime to beat Wake Forest and Toledo, and lost to Rutgers in OT. The Orange also had a 21-14 win over Rhode Island and 37-34 over Tulane, who fired its coach two weeks later.
This was a great night for Syracuse, but a disastrous night for the Big East.