Chandler Jones, Dorian Graham Earn Weekly Big East Awards

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Syracuse Football Vs. West Virginia: The Return Of Chandler Jones Key In Orange Victory

It's never a good practice to place a single victory on just one player, especially in football when it usually takes a team effort to solidify a win. But, on Friday night, in Syracuse University's 49-23 victory over Big East Conference foe and nationally-ranked West Virginia University at the Carrier Dome, onlookers couldn't help but notice the difference senior defensive end Chandler Jones had on SU's defensive line.

Jones, who Friday finally returned to the starting lineup after previously missing the last six weeks with a lower-body injury, totaled six solo tackles, including two sacks, and was all over the field and around the Big East's most prolific passer, junior quarterback Geno Smith. Smith, who totaled 338-passing yards with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions, was sacked a total of four times and hurried or pressured about three times as much by the Orange interior.

Before the game, there were questions surrounding how the Orange would slow down the Mountaineers offense, which ranked 11th nationally. Of course, one of those ways was to try and pressure Smith, but that was going to be easier said than done considering in the last five games, without Jones, the SU defense had averaged just two sacks per game, while WVU's offensive line entered Friday's contest allowing a league-low 1.17 sacks per game.

But, somehow, Syracuse, led by defense coordinator Scott Shafer, was able to come up with a game plan that allowed Jones to wreack havoc on Smith all-game long.

"Overall, I think everyone up front did a nice job," said SU head coach Doug Marrone after the game. "I think at one time we had 11 or 12 hits on the quarterback, which was important for us... We said it during the week. We just had to do a good job of keeping the quarterback off balance, and we did a good job with that for most of the game."

By the end of the game, Smith was also singing the praises of Syracuse's defensive effort.

"First off I just want to tip my hat off to Syracuse," said Smith. "They played a great game. They really hit us in the mouth tonight. We didn’t respond very well. It’s tough. It hurts. I can’t even lie and say it doesn’t hurt. I’m bleeding right now in my soul."

Meahnwhile, Jones admitted that he had been looking forward to the opportunity of getting after Smith.

"Actually, since I was out with my lower body injury I knew I was going to make the West Virginia game." said Jones. "So I have been scouting him since then. At the end of the game, I walked up to Geno Smith and told him he was a (great) player and I have a lot of respect for him. He is a great player and his passion for the game is off the charts. We just game planned and got a lot of pressure on Geno, so I am psyched for that."

This season was suppose to be the year that the 6-foot-5, 265-pound senior from Endicott, NY was going to break out and earn himself a spot on the big boards of NFL Draft experts. However, Jones didn't record a sack in SU's season-opening overtime victory, 36-29, against the University of Wake Forest and then he went down with an injury that nobody really had a grasp on.

The questions began to surface: How serious was Jones' injury? Would he be able to be productive when he came back? Was he ever that good?

Well, Jones answered all the questions Friday in a monster effort that, for a moment, had him trending world wide on Twitter. His two sacks came at a critical point in the game -- SU had just taken a 21-9 advantage after senior wide receiver Dorian Graham returned a WVU kickoff 98 yards for a TD. The Mountaineers tried to respond with a TD drive of their own, but on second-and-10 from midfield, Jones sacked Smith for a 12-yard loss. On third-and-22, Jones again got to Smith, this time for a seven-yard loss and forced WVU to punt. SU took the 12-point margin into the half.

In the second half, with SU leading 28-16, Jones used all of his body length and strength to sniff out a first-down, screen pass to WVU freshman running back Dustin Garrison, who could have ran 20-plus yards but, instead, was tackled after just four. Three plays, later the Mountaineers punted. 11 plays later, SU's senior tight end Nick Provo caught his third TD pass of the contest and helped the Orange take a 35-16 lead with less than a minute to go in the third quarter.

If Jones can stay healthy and continue to put on shows like he did two days ago, the Orange faithful may have something to be really excited about. And, no. I am just talking about Chandler Jones.

SB Nation New York blogged live from the Carrier Dome. Check back for more postgame coverage of Syracuse's shocking victory over West Virginia. Also, follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY or Jared_E_Smith.

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Syracuse-West Virginia Final: Near Capacity Crowd Spurs Orange To Upset Victory

Is an upset an upset if nobody is there to witness it? That sure wasn't the case Friday night inside the Carrier Dome when the Syracuse University football program upset nationally-ranked and visiting West Virginia University, 49-23, in a Big East Conference game that was played in front of 45,265 screaming fans. The victory helped the Orange (5-2, 1-1 Big East) beat the national-ranked Mountaineers (No. 11 in the AP Poll, No. 14 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the Bowl Championship Series standings) for the second straight year.

However, this year's victory was a bit different than last year's 19-14 squeaker. Last season, the Orange, who also beat a nationally-ranked Mountaineers squad, won on the road in Morgantown, WV, while this season's W was done at home, a place where big men's basketball, not football, victories have become the norm.

"I think the fans were a big part in helping us win," said Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone after the game. "If I was to sit here and say, 'hey it mattered', it mattered. It matters to these kids. These kids care about this community. This university cares about this community and, you know, it's great to have people out there. We feel our core values of our program reflect not only our university, but the community. Credit to those fans. They helped us win this game and its a game ball to them too."

During the singing of the national anthem, the Carrier Dome bleachers had plenty of empty seats and there was some doubt that the total attendance was going to even reach its four-game average of 39,631. But, just before kickoff spaces slowly started to fill and there were whispers in the media press box saying that fans were actually still stuck in traffic. By midway through the first quarter, the Dome was just a few thousand short of capacity (49,262).

"Going into the game we knew that was going to be a big crowd," said senior tight end David Stevens, who's first collegiate touchdown reception, which helped gave SU a 28-16 lead, came midway through the third quarter and created a deafening roar from the Orange faithful, "but I don’t think some of the young guys have seen a crowd like this or heard a crowd like this. They were really loud."

There's no arguing that Syracuse's flawless performance came at the perfect time. Not only was the Dome nearly packed full of fans that probably hadn't been to a football game in along time, but a primetime sports crowd was able to witness the Orange rout a national-ranked program. I am sure Syracuse watering holes were packed with rowdy Orange fans that were wishing they were screaming their face off at "The Loud House".

In three weeks, Nov. 11, SU will host the University of South Florida (4-2, 0-2) and if the Orange can stay in contention for the Big East title, there's a good chance that the Dome could reach its capacity, because of football, for the first time since Nov. 18, 2000 when No. 2-ranked Miami University defeated SU, 26-0.

Can it happen? Syracuse fans, not Doug Marrone or Ryan Nassib, have the power to pull that off. And, from what SU faithful learned Friday night anything, now, is truly possible.

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Final Score: Syracuse 49, West Virginia 23

The Syracuse University football program used a perfect defensive game plan and a career day from seniors, quarterback Ryan Nassib and tight end Nick Provo, Friday night to upset West Virginia University, 49-23, in a Big East Conference game at the Carrier Dome. Nassib, who finished the game with 230-passing yards, tossed three of his four touchdowns to Provo, who helped Syracuse (5-2, 1-1 Big East) compile its highest point total of the season in front of 45,265 fans.

"We made plays," said Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone after the game,  "The kids executed, they played extremely hard. They always have. We made plays at the right time. We kept them off balance. They are a very good football team. The story lies within those players."

The Orange are now just one win away from becoming bowl eligible, while the Mountaineers (5-2, 1-1), who entered the contest ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll, No. 14 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, suffered its worse loss to SU since 1960 when they lost 45-0.

The biggest play of the game came midway through the second quarter when SU's senior wide receiver Dorian Graham ran back a kick return 98 yards for a TD. The score, which gave SU a 21-9 advantage, answered a quick-TD drive by WVU that marched 69 yards in just three plays to trim an early Orange lead to 14-9.

From there, Syracuse scored 14 points in both the third and fourth quarters, and executed in all three phases of the game -- offense, defense and special teams -- to pull away from the highly touted Mountaineers.

SB Nation New York blogged live from the Carrier Dome. Check back for postgame coverage of Syracuse's shocking victory over West Virginia. Also, follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY or Jared_E_Smith.

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Third Quarter Score: Syracuse 35, West Virginia 16

Two third-quarter touchdown receptions by senior tight ends David Stevens and Nick Provo have helped Syracuse University take a commanding 35-16 advantage over West Virginia University in a Big East Conference game at the Carrier Dome. Stevens' first collegiate TD capped a six-play, 51-yard drive that answered a WVU-touchdown drive that came on the opening possession of the first half, but Provo's second TD catch of the day came with just 18 seconds remaining has propelled SU to its largest lead of the game.

Syracuse ended the third quarter with an interception of WVU's junior quarterback Geno Smith. Sophomore Phillip Thomas picked off Smith and ran it back inside WVU territory, which is where SU will begin the final quarter.

WVU opened the second half with a 14-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a one-yard plunge from junior running back Shawne Alston. The TD had cut SU's lead to 21-16 with 10:07 to play in the quarter.

SB Nation New York is running a live blog from the Carrier Dome as Syracuse hosts West Virginia. Check back for in-game and postgame updates; or follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY or Jared_E_Smith.

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Syracuse Vs. West Virginia: Halftime Score, Stats, Observations

After 30 minutes of play, the Syracuse University football program leads West Virginia University, 21-9, in a Big East Conference contest at the Carrier Dome. The Orange used running and throwing touchdowns from senior quarterback Ryan Nassib and a 98-yard kickoff return from senior wide receiver Dorian Graham to take an unexpected lead.

Here are some halftime stats:

  • Nassib passing stats: 13-of-20 for 110-passing yards and a TD. Nassib also has a one-yard rushing TD.
  • WVU's Geno Smith passing stats: 11-of-23 for 215 yards and a TD. Smith has also been sacked twice and has tossed an interception.
  • SU leading rusher: Senior running back Antwon Bailey who has 49 yards on 12 carries.
  • WVU leading rusher: Freshman running back Dustin Garrison who has 24 yards on five carries.
  • SU leading receiver: Graham has three catches for 44 yards, while senior tight end Nick Provo has three catches for 22 yards and a TD.
  • SU third downs:  5-of-9 (55.5 percent).
  • WVU third downs: 3-of-7 (42.8).
  • SU time of possession: 18:27.
  • WVU TOP: 11:33.

Quick observations:

  • So far, SU's play calling has been superb. The pass-to-run ration is 20-12 and both have been effective for the Orange.
  • SU's senior defense end Chandler Jones not only is trending world wide on Twitter, but already has five tackles and two sacks. Jones has missed the Orange's last five games with a lower body injury.
  • Graham's 98-kick return was exactly what SU needed in that spot. Look for special teams to play a big factor by game's end.
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Halftime: Syracuse 21, West Virginia 9

A 98-yard kick off return by senior wide receiver Dorian Graham has helped Syracuse University take a 21-9 halftime advantage over West Virginia University in a Big East Conference game at the Carrier Dome. The Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0 Big East) are currently ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll, No. 14 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, while the Orange (4-2, 0-1) are nowhere near the top 25.

Graham's big play answered a 64-yard TD reception by sophomore wide receiver Stedman Bailey that had cut the Orange margin to 14-9 with 8:49 to go in the half. Bailey outleaped two SU defenders to get to a pass thrown by junior quarterback Geno Smith, who has struggled (11-of-23 for just 199-passing yards). WVU junior kicker Tyler Bitancurt missed the extra point attempt wide left.

Near the end of the half, WVU was driving deep inside SU territory, but Smith was picked off by sophomore defensive back Jeremi Wilkes in the end zone with less than a minute to play.

In the first quarter, Syracuse got on the scoreboard first with a three-yard touchdown catch by senior tight end Nick Provo from senior quarterback Ryan Nassib. Provo's third TD catch of the year, which came with 4:15 to play in the first quarter, capped a 15-play, 84-yard drive that helped SU take 7-0 advantage.

WVU cut it to 7-3 with a 27-yard field goal by Bitancurt, but SU increased its lead to 14-3 when Nassib led a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with him scoring on a one-yard plunge.

SB Nation New York is running a live blog from the Carrier Dome as Syracuse hosts West Virginia. Check back for in-game and postgame updates; or follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY or Jared_E_Smith.

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Syracuse Vs. West Virginia: Scouting The Mountaineers

The Syracuse University football program has a chance Friday night (8 p.m. on ESPN) to retain the Schwartzwalder Trophy for the second straight year -- the first time since 2000-01 -- as West Virginia University travels to the Carrier Dome for a Big East Conference match up. The Orange (5-1, 0-1 Big East) defeated the Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0) last season, 19-14, but will have their hands full with WVU, which is ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll, No. 14 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

In case, you don't know much about the West Virginia Mountaineers, here's a brief scoring report:

Head Coach

After just one season as the offensive coordinator at University of Oklahoma State, Dana Holgorsen left to take the head coaching job in Morgantown. Holgorsen, who is proclaimed to be an offensive genius, has helped the Mountaineers jump out to a 5-1 start and is currently the front runner to win the Big East's BCS automatic bowl berth. 

This Season

West Virginia's only loss came on the road to Louisiana State University, 41-24, in Week 4. In retrospect, the loss wasn't that bad considering that the Tigers are the top-ranked program in the nation. The Mountaineers biggest victory came against the University of Maryland, 37-31, in Week 3. Two weeks ago, WVU began its Big East season with a 43-16 victory over the University of Connecticut.

Offense

Currently, junior quarterback Geno Smith is by far the Big East's best quarterback. Smith is ranked fifth nationally in passing yardage per game (359.8) and sixth in total offense (357.67). In the Big East, Smith has the highest passing efficiency rating (152.4) and a league-best 16 passing touchdowns. However, last season against Syracuse, Smith tossed three INTs and was sacked five times in a loss at Morgantown.

At wide receiver, the Mountaineers are led by sophomore Stedman Bailey (5-foot-10, 190-pounds) who leads the team and Big East conference with 105.7 receiving yards per game. Though, Bailey has been Smith's biggest target, WVU has two other wide outs that the Syracuse secondary will need to key on.

Junior Tavon Austin (5-9, 176) is second in the Big East with 94 receiving yards per game, but is also third in the nation in all purpose yards (193.5), while sophomore Ivan McCartney has 34 receptions.

This season, WVU doesn't have a stellar rushing attack -- ranked fifth out of eight programs in the Big East and 93rd in the nation -- but, a pair of freshmen lead the way. Running back Dustin Garrison has rushed for a team-best 436 yards, while Andrew Buie has 28 rushing attempts (the second most on the team).

Meanwhile, WVU's offensive line is only allowing 1.17 sacks per game.

In the red zone, WVU is scoring 93.8 percent of the time which has helped the offense rank No. 1 in the Big East and No. 11 nationally.

Defense

Not only are the Mountaineers solid on offense, but their defense is ranked 16th in the country -- currently, WVU is one of four FCS programs that are ranked in the top 20 in both offense and defense.

Currently, WVU has the Big East's best pass defense allowing just 181.33 yards per game. However, it's rushing defense is allowing 119.83 yards per game.

Senior linebacker Najee Goode and corner back Pat Miller leads WVU with 41 tackles, while senior defensive end Bruce Irvin had a team-best seven tackles for a loss with 2 1/2 sacks.

Conclusion

This will be Syracuse's toughest match up of the season. Not only is WVU's offense one of the best in the nation, its defense has the speed and talent to hold the Orange's attack at bay. It's a good thing that defensive backs Shamarko Thomas and Orlando Fisher and defense end Chandler Jones will be healthy because SU will need every able body to slow down the Mountaineers.

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