The 2018 bowl game is set and West Virginia Mountaineers will play the Syracuse Orange in the Camping World Bowl. Just like the last time these two played, the 2012 version of the Pinstripe Bowl, the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy will not be up for grabs, despite some other articles stating otherwise.
As almost any fan of the West Virginia Mountaineers knows, the Syracuse Orange used to be a rival when both teams were in the Big East, both with Miami and Virginia Tech and the downtrodden years where fans spent every year yelling about relevance. As the basketball powers continued to erode the football powers of the Big East, West Virginia jumped ship to the Big 12 and Syracuse moved on to the ACC.
West Virginia and Syracuse first met in 1945 in Syracuse, a game the Orange won 12-0. From 1955 through 2011, the teams met annually in the regular season. Former head coach Don Nehlen was 8-13 in his career against Syracuse. Rich Rodriguez was 6-1 against the Orange, winning his last six meetings by an average score of 34-12. Bill Stewart continued to win against the Orange, going 2-1 in his meetings. Current head coach Dana Holgorsen is 0-3 against Syracuse. The Orange lead the all-time series 33-27.
Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy
The two teams have exchanged an annual rivalry game trophy, known as the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy since 1993. The trophy is named after former WVU player and Syracuse head coach Floyd “Ben” Schwartzwalder. Ben was born in Point Pleasant, WV and played center for the Mountaineers from 1930-1932. He coached Sistersville High School for a year and then five years at Parkersburg. He coached Syracuse from 1949 through 1973, leading the Orange to a national title in 1959. He was 178-96-3 in his career at Syracuse but only 2-5 in bowl games.
The trophy was introduced in 1993, the year of Schwartzwalder’s death and has been awarded every year since 1993. West Virginia lost the trophy in 2011 when they were defeated in the Carrier Dome. Former defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel looked baffled as Syracuse ran wheel route after wheel route and his defense couldn’t stop it.
The 2018 Orange
The Orangemen enter the bowl game with a 9-3 record on the season, thanks in part to a weak ACC. The Orange were the second best team in conference behind juggernaut Clemson Tigers, who nearly lost to Syracuse when freshman sensation quarterback Trevor Lawrence was injured and Kelly Bryant chose to transfer to take advantage of the new four game redshirt rule.
Syracuse started the season 4-0 before the aforementioned loss to Clemson, 27-23. The Orange then fell victim to the hangover loss, this time a 44-37 overtime loss to another West Virginia rival, the Pittsburgh Panthers. Syracuse bounced back with a double overtime win over the North Carolina Tarheels, which kick started another four-game winning streak for the Orange. A 36-3 loss to College Football Playoff contender Notre Dame was the only blemish in the second half. Syracuse finished the season with a 21-point win over Boston College Eagles.
Offensively, Syracuse scored 489 points in 12 games, equal to over 40 points a game. This would have put the Orange has the second best offense in the Big 12. Defensively, Syracuse lost to two of the three ranked teams they played: Clemson and Notre Dame. Their only win over a ranked team came to N.C. State Wolfpack, back when people still thought the ‘Pack were good enough to warrant a ranking.
Syracuse is led by senior quarterback Eric Dungey and junior running back Moe Neal. Dungey threw for 2500 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, while Neal added over 800 yards on the ground. Eric Dungey proved to be a true dual-threat with 700+ rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.