Orlando not a bad late December destination
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Will Jack Allison stand tall in the early evening in the Orlando-based Camping World Bowl?
Can West Virginia menace the new year’s resolutions of Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey?
What happens if Allison is toppled by the Orange pass rush and limps off the field with an injury?
West Virginia comes to Orlando without its starting quarterback (Will Grier), hard-to-contain wide receiver (Gary Jennings) and offensive lineman (Yadny Cajuste).
Syracuse comes from its piles of melting snow to the swaying palms of central Florida.
Attitude and readiness to play will be important factors for both sides.
Can the Mountaineers put the four-point loss to Oklahoma State and the three-point loss to Oklahoma in Cheat Lake, and come out with a positive frame of mind? If not, Syracuse has the makings to become the winning team, despite its loss by three points to Clemson and to Pittsburgh in overtime.
The prevailing thinking in college football is that any team can build for the next season with the bricks and mortar from a winning bowl game.
West Virginia was crushed in its bowl game last year in Dallas against Utah, scoring only 14 points without Grier and giving the Utes little problem.
Because of a change in NCAA redshirt rules, any freshmen who hasn’t played all season can be used in a bowl game and still not have his appearance derail his redshirt status. If freshman quarterback Woodrow “Trey” Lowe III has to be brought in to replace Allison, he will still have four years of collegiate eligibility remaining.
A handful of Mountaineers with nagging injuries from when the curtain fell at Puskar Stadium the night Oklahoma buried West Virginia’s Big 12 Conference championship game, are hoped to have recovered enough to be available to play.
The same can be said for the Syracuse injured when its regular season was closed.
Syracuse fans will bolt from upstate New York. They will see this as a Christmas/winter vacation where the weather is cooperative and the early-bird specials at the buffet restaurants are calling their names.
Those venturing to Florida from Morgantown and nearby ski resorts will see the same opportunities.
It’s a football reward for players and fans alike, with Walt Disney World Resort and central Florida restaurants as the clear winners.