The Orange and the Mountaineers had a notable continuous rivalry from 1955 until 2011 when both schools were members of the Big East, with the winner of each game taking home the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy. That trophy was not on the line in the Pinstripe Bowl.
This was the Orange's second Pinstripe Bowl; in the inaugural 2010 gamethey had defeated the Kansas State Wildcats by a score of 36–34 after a controversial excessive celebration call led to the Wildcats missing what would have been the game-tying two-point conversion. It was also the Orange's final game as a member of the Big East before they joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013.
The Mountaineers' first season as a member of the Big 12 started out smoothly, cruising to a 5–0 start and a #4 ranking. However, the Mountaineers would later receive a serious reality check in the form of a five-game losing streak. However, after winning their final two games of the season over the Iowa State Cyclones and Kansas Jayhawks, the Mountaineers would rebound to a 4–5 conference record.
This was the Mountaineers' first appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Syracuse converted the first safety in Pinstripe Bowl history.
Syracuse and West Virginia had previously met annually since 1955 when West Virginia was a member of the Big East. The two teams played for the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy. The victory gave Syracuse an all-time series lead of 33-27.