The biggest difference between then and now, though - or at least Smith, Holgorsen and everyone else concerned hopes is the case - is that last year at Syracuse was the seventh game in Holgorsen's system. The Pinstripe Bowl will be the 26th.
And experience matters.
"Last year I think Syracuse caught us at a time when we really didn't expect that,'' Smith said. "That's not to say we weren't prepared, but they were doing some things that it would take a veteran in the offense, a group of guys who had been together for a while, to understand how to counterattack it and beat it. That's the luxury of us being here two years in the system now. Since that game we've grown tremendously. I think it's going to be a totally different ballgame.
"We've seen other teams do things like that. Maryland tried to do it this year.''
Of course, it's hard to say that mere experience in the offense will make a huge difference. That experience was there when the Mountaineers played Kansas State, too, and the Wildcats held Smith to 143 yards passing. Syracuse is no Kansas State, but still, it's obvious that the system itself and experience in it provides no guarantees of success.
But facing the Orange for a third time certainly provides an opportunity to show what, if any, differences there are once everyone is on the same page.
"That  loss wasn't so much a wakeup call as it was something that let us know that we had to be on the same page and that there were nuances within the offense that we didn't quite understand,'' Smith said. "Those things that we didn't know then, we know now.
"They like to blitz and pretty much attack the offense. But we have veterans and guys who have seen that a lot now. No one will be wide-eyed. We're expecting it and I'm pretty sure we'll be prepared for it.''
It's also an opportunity - the last one - for Smith to show his future prospective employers in the NFL what kind of advancements he's made.
"I think it will be a good way to show my progress over the years,'' Smith said. "It'll be a good way for NFL scouts and whoever is watching to examine me as a quarterback because they're going to do some things that are off the charts, that you don't see every day in college football. Those things, overloaded blitzes and mixing things up in coverage, those are things you see on Sunday.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.