WVU couldn't get a grip on first down. Syracuse averaged 6.0 yards on 29 first-down plays. Only twice in those 29 - two incomplete Ryan Nassib passes - did SU fail to gain yardage.
There was no stopping the Orange.
"Never. I don't think we had them in a third-and-5-plus the whole game," Casteel said. "They were really successful on first down running the football, and then if we had some success on first down, they'd quick-game us or dump a ball for 6, 7 (yards) and get us back into third-and-2."
SU's front, coached up by former Nitro High and Marshall lineman and assistant coach Greg Adkins, the Orange offensive line coach, didn't allow sack, the fourth time in seven games West Virginia has been without a passing QB takedown.
"We took a look at the LSU film and they kind of punched them in the mouth," Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh said of WVU's 47-21 loss. "They had the kind of mentality we had last year (in a stunning win at Mountaineer Field).
"We just wanted to go out there and make sure we were physical up front. We just focused on getting one first down at a time, moving the ball up the field. We were able to accomplish that tonight."
The Orange defensive four-man front, with help from its blitzers, tore repeatedly through West Virginia's overwhelmed -- and overrated -- offensive line, too.
"They blitzed almost on every snap," Holgorsen said. "Even when they didn't blitz, their pass rush was better than our pass blocking. That's what really exposed us. It was exposed by their defensive line and linebackers. They were just beating us up.
"If you look at it on the other side, their offensive line mauled us. We were exposed up front. Our kickoff team didn't do a good job getting down the field. Their kickoff team ran right through us.
"They made plays and played harder. We have played the same way since Game 1. There have been games when we've been more physical than our opponent. I give Syracuse credit."
Holgorsen was right. On a night when Syracuse had more than enough answers, the Mountaineers headed home with more questions about themselves than they've faced all season.
"Sometimes you've got to take the bad with the good," Casteel said, "and this was a rough one."
Right now, the only conference realignment WVU needs to worry about is in those 2011 Big East standings.
Contact Sports Editor Jack
Bogaczyk at ja...@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.