MORGANTOWN - Shawne Alston figured last year he would never see a Big East football team again, but that won't be the case for him and his West Virginia University teammates next week.
The Mountaineers, 7-5, travel to Yankee Stadium to take on old rival Syracuse, 7-5, in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. WVU bolted from the Big East Conference this season to join the Big 12, while Syracuse will be leaving after this year to join the Atlantic Coast Conference with fellow Big East team Pitt.
"These are the cards we've been dealt, so we have to go out and take care of business," Alston said.
Syracuse has won the last two meetings, snapping an eight-game losing streak against the Mountaineers, and the Orange hold a 32-27 margin in the all-time series.
"They have beaten me twice in my career," WVU quarterback Geno Smith said. "I didn't care who we played (in a bowl game). But I think this will be a good way to show how far we've progressed."
The Orange blew out the Mountaineers, 49-23, last fall in the Carrier Dome, behind stellar special teams play and three Mountaineer turnovers.
"That game wasn't really a wake-up call, but it let us know we all had to be on the same page," Smith said.
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said the Mountaineers have some unfinished business this season, because "8-5 is better than 7-6." His players, however, take a differing view of the unfinished business theme.
"We have some revenge we want to get on these guys," wide receiver Stedman Bailey said.
Alston said that while WVU has "something to prove against every team" it plays, this is something extra on the line in the Pinstripe Bowl.
"They beat us twice. There's no way around that," he said.
"They beat us, so we want to beat them. I would lie if I said it didn't carry over some."