MORGANTOWN - When West Virginia and Syracuse meet Saturday in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, the Mountaineers will not be facing the same type of staid, basic offense they are used to seeing when facing the Orange.
And for a defense that has had the kind of difficulties WVU's has had this season, that's not good news.
"They have everybody back on offense,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They're a very good offensive football team.''
In truth, the last time the two teams met, Syracuse was a pretty good offensive football team. Or at least that was the case for that one night.
The Orange rolled up 443 yards of total offense in a 49-23 rout of West Virginia last season when both teams were in the Big East. Quarterback Ryan Nassib completed 24 of his 32 passes for 229 yards and threw for four touchdowns, three of them to tight end Nick Provo. He also ran for a score.
That, though, was an anomaly. The Orange ranked No. 90 in the country in total offense last season. The year before, Syracuse was No. 97.
This year? They led the Big East in total offense and ranked No. 21 nationally. They have great balance, passing for 302 yards per game and running for 172. They don't score in bunches (29.3 points per game, No. 60 in the country), but they move the football.
And Nassib ranks No. 13 in total offense and leads the Big East. He doesn't have Geno Smith-like numbers, but he's efficient and productive.
"That quarterback just keeps getting better and better,'' Holgorsen said. "He's worked his way up, much like Geno, to where he's going to be a top draft pick and play at the next level.''