Pinstripe Bowl a chance for West Virginia to avenge 2011 loss

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West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said his team will draw motivation to play in the Pinstripe Bowl later this month from a 49-23 loss to Syracuse last year.

The Mountaineers coach, joined by Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and bowl executives spoke about the upcoming game at a news conference Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

"I think we're going to be motivated to play based on what happened there last year," Holgorsen said. "Went up to Syracuse, and they outcoached us and outplayed us. There's going to be a lot of familiarity. ... [That] was not very pleasant for West Virginia when Syracuse got the best of us. Our kids will be fired up about playing."

Mark Holtzman, the bowl's executive director, spoke of the rich tradition and history the two programs have with one another and the explosiveness of both teams' attacks.

"We have one of the best bowl matchups in the country. Our game will be as exciting as any game you want to see," Holtzman said. "We could have 100 points in this game and 1,000 passing yards."

Holtzman underscored the meeting between quarterbacks Geno Smith of West Virginia and Ryan Nassib of Syracuse, both of whom passed for more than 3,000 yards this season. Smith eclipsed 4,000 with 4,004 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Nassib threw for 3,619 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Holtzman also reeled off a laundry list of events lined up for the teams. Players will ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, ride the elevator up 102 floors at the Empire State Building, take a visit to the 9/11 Memorial site and, of course, walk the halls and grounds of new Yankee Stadium.

Marrone talked about how exciting the area is at Christmas time.

"I am jacked up about this," Marrone said. "We're excited. Our kids are excited. Both teams know each other. I think it's going to be an outstanding game. Christmas time in this area, there's no better place to be. I'm a little biased, a New York City guy, there's no better place in the world."

Holgorsen said a game in New York City is a boon for fans who can make the drive in a half-day's time.

"We've been talking about wanting to play a game in New York. And it's been fantastic to have it be a bowl game against a great rival in Syracuse," Holgorsen said.

Year end awards

The Big 12 announced its year end awards Wednesday and Kansas State, not surprisingly, ran away with the major awards, including coach of the year, and offensive and defensive player of the year honors.

Tavon Austin was West Virginia's lone representative on the individual major award list, earning a nod as co-special teams player of the year along with kicker-punter Quinn Sharp of Oklahoma State.

Austin, who was the team's most consistently productive player this year, finished the regular season with 1,259 receiving yards, 598 rushing yards, 738 yards on kick returns and 165 yards on punt returns.

The team did have six players, including Austin, who earned all-Big 12 and honorable mention honors.

Austin and receiver Stedman Bailey were named to the first team. Quarterback Smith and center Joe Madsen were named to the second team and honorable mentions were given to defensive back Karl Joseph and receiver Ryan Nehlen as a scholar athlete.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez.


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