The weather made passing at the Pinstripe Bowl perilous, so Syracuse sent Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith dashing through West Virginia and the snow.
Gulley ran for a career-best 208 yards and had three touchdowns, Smith added 157 yards, and the Orange bid a blustery farewell to the Big East with a 38-14 victory over West Virginia on Saturday.
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 from West Virginia, now playing in the Big 12, for a third straight time.
“They just did a better job than us at the line of scrimmage,” Mountaineers coach Dana 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.”
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 was 16 for 26 for 197 yards in the final game of his record-breaking career.