NEW YORK (AP) — Passing through the snow proved problematic for Geno Smith and West Virginia at the Pinstripe Bowl. Stopping Syracuse was an even bigger issue for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia finished off an up-and-down first season in the Big 12 by losing 38-14 to an old Big East rival on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
It was a disappointing end to a season that started with such promise. West Virginia was 5-0 and ranked fifth in the country at one point.
"We'll evaluate everything and see where we're at," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "It's a new position. The Big 12 is new to us. We're going to learn a lot more about happened in the Big 12 this year. Moving on from here it's a little bit more about that than playing in a specific bowl game against Syracuse."
Geno Smith connected with Stedman Bailey for two touchdown passes for West Virginia (7-6), but the Mountaineers' quarterback also was sacked in the end zone in the first half and called for intentional grounding in the end zone in the third quarter to give Syracuse a second safety.
Smith, who was an early Heisman Trophy front-runner, was 16 for 26 for 197 yards in the final game of his record-breaking career. The NFL awaits.
"Today wasn't one of my best efforts but I don't think I did a terrible job. One game does not sum up an entire career," Smith said. "What I do in college has nothing to do with what I do at the next level."
Prince-Tyson Gulley ran for a career-best 208 yards and had three touchdowns, Jerome Smith added 157 yards rushing, as the Orange bid a blustery farewell to the Big East.
Syracuse (8-5) will enter the Atlantic Coast Conference on a roll after finishing this season with six wins in its last seven games, capped by its second postseason victory at Yankee Stadium in the last three years.
In a bowl game played in a baseball stadium with weather better suited for a playoff game in Green Bay, the team that plays in a dome ended up being better equipped to handle the elements.
"The football Gods brought snow," said Smith, who carried a season-high 30 times. "The football Gods from Syracuse brought us some snow and it changed even West Virginia's game. They had to run a little bit more than they were used to. We ran the ball a little bit more than we're used to and did what we were supposed to do."
Syracuse finished with a season-high 369 yards on the ground and beat its former Big East rival for a third straight time.
"They just did a better job than us at the line of scrimmage," Holgorsen said. "To be in a game like this when you've got to rely on your run defense to help you win and you're not able to do it, it's frustrating."