In a bowl played in a baseball stadium, with weather more 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, who was an early Heisman Trophy front-runner as the Mountaineers got off to a 5-0 start this season, was 16 for 26 for 197 yards in the final game of his record-breaking career. The NFL awaits.
Same goes for Ryan Nassib, though Syracuse didn't ask much of its talented senior quarterback. He threw two touchdown passes and an interception. His most impressive feat on this day was surviving being driven into the cold turf by Terence Garvin on a sack in the first half. Nassib missed only one play.
"It's my last game, man, nothing's going to take me out," he said.
Syracuse 38, West Virginia 14
West Virginia 0 7 7 0 14
Syracuse 3 9 23 3 38
Syr • FG Krautman 25, 5:21.
Syr • Lynch Safety, 7:59.
Syr • Gulley 33 run (Krautman kick), 6:07.
WVU • Bailey 32 pass from G.Smith (Bitancurt kick), 3:38.
Syr • Wales 10 pass from R.Nassib (Krautman kick), 10:43.
Syr • Gulley 67 run (Krautman kick), 6:52.
WVU • Bailey 29 pass from G.Smith (Bitancurt kick), 5:41.
Syr • Gulley 10 pass from R.Nassib (Krautman kick), 2:52.
Syr • Sharpe Safety, 1:08.
Syr • FG Krautman 36, 11:57.
Attendance • 39,098.
First downs 15 28
Rushes-yards 37-88 65-369
Passing 197 142
Comp-Att-Int 16-24-0 13-25-1
Return Yards 0 0
Punts-Avg. 5-31.4 3-24.7
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 10-106 5-68
Time of Possession 23:37 36:23
Rushing • West Virginia, Austin 12-54, Buie 9-33, Bailey 1-13, G.Smith 5-13, Alston 7-5, Kinsey 3-(minus 30). Syracuse, Gulley 25-208, Smith 30-157, R.Nassib 8-8, Team 2-(minus 4).
Passing • West Virginia, G.Smith 16-24-0-197. Syracuse, R.Nassib 12-24-1-134, Loeb 1-1-0-8.
Receiving • West Virginia, Bailey 7-126, Woods 5-41, Austin 2-21, Clay 1-10, Buie 1-(minus 1). Syracuse, Gulley 5-56, Wales 3-39, Lemon 3-11, Sales 1-19, West 1-17.