New Era Pinstripe Bowl: 10 Things You Need To Know About Syracuse vs. Kansas St.

Dmitriy Ioselevich@dioselevSenior Analyst IIIDecember 6, 2010

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: 10 Things You Need To Know About Syracuse vs. Kansas St.

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    The 7-5 Kansas State Wildcats face off against the 7-5 Syracuse Orange in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl to be played on December 30th at Yankee Stadium.

    Yes, this football game will be played in the world's most luxurious and over-priced baseball park, and the home of the New York Yankees.

    It's by no means a marquee a bowl game, but this match-up is nonetheless loaded with intrigue.

    Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone has helped turnaround a program that for most of the decade was a punching mat and is now a legitimate college football team. It will be the Orange's first taste of bowl action since 2004.

    Kansas State is one of the highest scoring teams in the nation and earned three wins in one of the country's toughest conferences, the Big 12.

    Plus, this game is being played in Yankee Stadium, and the Wildcats play in Manhattan, Kansas. How cool is that?

    Let's take a look at 10 more things you need to know about this bowl game.

The History

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    The Wildcats and Orange have met in postseason play twice before.

    In 1997 they faced each other in the Fiesta Bowl in a game that Kansas St. won easily 35-18.

    But in 2001 Syracuse got its revenge. They defeated the Wildcats 26-3 in the Bowl. Both of the bowl games were played in Tempe, Arizona. 

Syracuse: By The Numbers

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    Here are the 2010 numbers for the Syracuse Orange and where they rank in the nation.

    Average points for - 21.0 (103rd)

    Average points against - 18.1 (13th)

    Average total yards for - 308.3 (106th)

    Average yards passing - 197.1 (88th)

    Average yards rushing - 130.3 (88th)

    Sacks - 26.0 (48th)

    Interceptions - 9 (82nd)

Kansas State: By The Numbers

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    Here are the 2010 numbers for the Kansas State Wildcats and where they rank in the nation.

    Average points for - 33.6 (25th)

    Average points against - 28.5 (74th)

    Average total yards for - 378.8 (62nd)

    Average yards passing - 188.3 (96th)

    Average yards rushing - 206.0 (26th)

    Sacks - 18.0 (93rd)

    Interceptions - 13 (43rd)

Syracuse: Key Players on Offense

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    QB Ryan Nassib - The Orange quarterback has been a pleasant surprise this season, throwing for 2,095 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter. He's smart (only eight interceptions) and does a good job of spreading the ball with five receivers recording at least 20 receptions, despite not having a single stand out receiver. At 6'2" and 224 pounds, he's also not afraid to run outside of the pocket and hit his targets in stride or run for a gain.

    RB Delone Carter - Carter is Syracuse's primary rusher and has run for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns on 204 carries this season. It's his second consecutive 1,000-yard season, and Carter has 2,906 career rushing yards for the Orange. He's not a bruising rusher (only 5'10" and 215 pounds), but is strong enough to say on his feet after the first hit and does a good job avoiding tacklers in the open field. He's rarely used as a receiver, but does have four 100-yard rushing games this season. 

    WR Van Chew - The 6'1", 170-pound Chew does not have the freakish athleticism of former Syracuse receiver Mike Williams (now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), but he has developed into a reliable target for Nassib. He's caught 41 passes for 611 yards and five touchdowns. Chew does a good job using his length to get above defenders and grab the ball and is a good route runner.

Kansas State: Key Players On Offense

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    RB Daniel Thomas - The 6'2", 228-pound Thomas is without question the leader of the Wildcats offense. He's one of the best running backs in the nation, rushing for 1,495 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He has five 100-yard games in 2010 and an additional two 200-yard games, including a 269-yard effort in the last game of the regular season against North Texas. He's had a multi-touchdown game in seven of the Wildcats 12 games. Thomas is quick, strong and smart. He excels at finding running lanes and carrying defenders through them.

    QB Carson Coffman - The Wildcats run a rush-first offense, but when they do decide to pass Coffman is more than capable of delivering the goods. The 6'3", 211-pound senior has thrown for 1,832 yards this season for 12 touchdowns. His completion percentage is an impressive 64.2 and he's only thrown seven interceptions. Coffman, like Nassib, is also not afraid to be flushed out of the pocket and has recorded at least 10 rushing attempts seven times this season to go along with nine rushing touchdowns. Coffman shares snaps with Collin Klein, who is primarily used as a rusher.

    WR Aubrey Quarles - When Kansas St. does actually put the ball in the air, Quarles is usually the one who comes down with it. The 5'11", 202-pound senior leads the team in receptions (47), receiving yards (685) and receiving touchdowns (five). He's very fast and has good hands, but is not strong enough to out muscle defenders for the ball. Incredibly dangerous in the open field if he has the ball.

Syracuse: Key Players On Defense

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    LB Derrell Smith - The 6'1", 232-pound linebacker is Syracuse's leading tackler with 103 and an imposing force in the middle of one of the nation's best defenses. Smith has played all over the Orange defense, most recently at inside linebacker, so he struggles sometimes to make quick decisions on the snap while lined up at middle linebacker. But once he's locked onto a ball carrier, he's a relentless and ferocious tackler. He's forced and recovered three fumbles in 2010.

    LB Doug Hogue - Hogue, 6'2" and 226 pounds, used to be a running back for the Orange but moved to linebacker prior to the 2009 season. He was an almost instant success, teaming up with Smith to form one of the most intimidating linebacker tandems in the Big East and recording 89 tackles (9.5 for a loss) and three sacks this season. He also is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. Hogue uses his agility as a former highly regarded running back recruit to pursue the ball carrier and bring him down for a loss.  

    CB Mike Holmes - The senior defensive back is one of the few bright spots in a Syracuse secondary that traditionally struggles against the pass. He has 62 tackles and an interception on the season. Holmes (5'11", 182-pound) is athletic but lacks elite coverage skills and can be beaten on the deep ball. He's best at defending short passes and is a good blitzer (three sacks). Holmes is also one of the best punt/kick returners in the conference.

    DE Chandler Jones - At 6'5" and 251 pounds, Jones is beginning to look a lot like his big brother—Arthur Jones, a defensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. The junior recorded 53 tackles for the Orange this season, including a team-leading four sacks. He's strong as an ox and is the anchor of one of the country's better rush defenses. 

Kansas State: Key Players On Defense

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    DB Ty Zimmerman - The freshman corner has already emerged as the Wildcats best defensive player. The 6'1", 202-pound Zimmerman has 69 tackles this season to go along with a team-leading three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The former high school quarterback has had a wildly successful rookie campaign and is a key part of the Wildcats defense against the pass-happy offenses in the Big 12.

    DB David Garrett - What Garrett lacks in size (5'8" and 176 pounds), he makes up for in tenacity. The defensive back is the Wildcats leading tackler with 86 takedowns, including 13 for a loss and three sacks. He's inexperienced, however, and can be exposed against larger receivers.

    LB Alex Hrebec - The junior linebacker is one of the captains for the linebackers and was predicted to be a defensive force in 2010. He's had an uninspiring season (74 tackles in 10 games), but he remains a force to be reckoned with. At 5'11" and 251 pounds he's capable of wreaking havoc in the backfield. 

The Location

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    A college football bowl game being played in New York is a big deal, especially considering New York's professional football teams (Jets & Giants) don't even play in the state.

    The 2010 Pinstripe Bowl will be the first bowl game played in the New York City are since 1981, when the Garden State Bowl was hosted in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. It will be the first bowl game played in New York state since 1962, when Miami faced off against Nebraska in the Gotham Bowl in the original Yankee Stadium.

    The new Yankee Stadium is an interesting venue to host a college football game, especially one played in late December. But the location should play to Syracuse's advantage since the Orange are the undeclared college football team of New York.

    There will be thousands of Syracuse fans who brave the cold to witness their team play in Yankee Stadium, and those fans may be enough to provide the Orange with a home-field advantage.

The Game

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    The Wildcats are a run-first team with few impact defensive players and a tendency to give up a lot of points. The Orange are offensively challenged and have one of the best rush defenses in college football, but struggle against the pass.

    This initial set of conditions would seem to put the game in Syracuse's favor. Then you realize that the game is being played outdoors in late December, which would make executing a passing offense next to impossible, and the game tilts to Syracuse even more.

    But the Wildcats are a still a good team, with wins over UCLA, Iowa State and Texas on its resume. The biggest win the Orange had this season was against West Virginia, a good ranked team but hardly a college football power. Kansas State has the advantage of having faced much tougher competition in the Big 12, and is used to playing in big games.

    Syracuse, on the other hand, is an average team in one of the NCAA's worst major conferences. None of the players on the Syracuse roster have ever played in a bowl game, and that lack of experience could come back to haunt the Orange when they step out onto the frozen tundra in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans.

The Prediction

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    This game will be played, and won, on the ground. Neither team has a particularly strong passing offense or any impact receivers that are capable of single-handedly taking over a game.

    That means the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl will come down to Daniel Thomas vs. the Syracuse rush defense, and Delone Carter vs. the Kansas St. rush defense.

    Thomas is one of the best running backs in the nation and Syracuse hasn't faced anyone like him all season, with the possible exception of Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis in a game that the Panthers won easily 45-14. Carter is good, but he's not on anywhere near the same level as Thomas and is a complete non-factor unless he has the ball in his hands.

    The Wildcats will struggle to move the ball against the Syracuse defense, but all it takes is a couple of big runs to break the game open. Odds are that Thomas will get those runs eventually. Syracuse doesn't have the offensive firepower to trade touchdowns with Kansas State, which means that the defense needs to be perfect.

    Since the words Syracuse and perfection haven't gone very well together in a long time, this game has to go to Kansas State.

    Prediction: Kansas State 24 - Syracuse 10