The Syracuse University football program faces its biggest Big East Conference test of the season Friday night as nationally ranked West Virginia University visits the Carrier Dome (8 p.m. on ESPN). The Orange, who won their final non-conference game 11 days ago, will be looking to start a string of six straight conference games with a victory.
The Orange (4-2, 0-1 Big East) hope a victory over the Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0) can be a huge moral boost for a program that is looking toimprove upon a very up-and-down start to the season. Meanwhile, WVU (ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll, No. 14 in the USA Today Poll and No. 15 in the BCS standings) wants to begin its league play with a 2-0 record before traveling to Piscataway, N.J. for a Week 10 match-up with Rutgers University, which is currently atop of the conference standings.
Both programs are coming off bye weeks. Syracuse used its week off to get healthy -- senior defensive end Chandler Jones, while defensive backs, senior Orlando Fisher and sophomore Shamarko Thomas, are expected to return to the starting line up after being injured for multiple weeks -- and fix its inconsistent play on both sides of the ball.
During their bye week, the Mountaineers were focusing on just keeping offensive momentum, which has helped WVU earn the fourth-best passing ranking in the nation (380-passing yard per game).
Currently, the betting odds have West Virginia as 14-point favorites.