Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Way back on December 2nd it was announced that the Syracuse Orangemen were accepting an invitation to play in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City. The news sent Orange Nation into a frenzy, as fans scrambled to purchase tickets, talk trash to their friends, and make travel plans to the big city.

Along the way, 20" of snow fell in Manhattan and brought much of the city to a stand still. Airports were shut down and literally thousands of flights were cancelled. Trains stopped running. Subways were frozen. Buses were stuck in tremendous snow drifts.

While 20" of snow in Syracuse, NY is a walk in the park, in New York City, people panic. The Syracuse University football team was schedule to arrive in the Big Apple on Sunday night. Unfortunately, that's when the storm was at its peak, and many players were stuck in airports around the country. Only twenty or so athletes were in Manhattan as of Monday morning.

Senior Mike Holmes took off from Jacksonville, Fl. en route to NYC when his flight had to land in Charlotte, NC due to the winter storm in New York. Holmes and an SU graduate assistant then rented a car and drove 12-hours to New York City, arriving around 5:00AM monday morning.

Delone Carter's , Syracuse's senior running back, flight from Akron, OH to New York was cancelled and he was told that he may not be able to fly out until Tuesday. So, on Monday, Carter boarded a bus at 12 noon, and arrived in NYC 2:30AM on Tuesday. Just a 12.5 hour bus ride!

Kansas State's football team, on the other hand, flew to NYC as a group and arrived at their hotel as a team and on time. They did not have to deal with the hassle of getting everyone to one location from all across the country during the worst snow storm of the season as the Orangemen did.

Turning our focus to the game, Syracuse fans are going to be witnessing their first bowl game since the 2004 season. That year Syracuse finished 6-5 in their last season under Paul Pasqualoni, and went to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Let's just say Syracuse did not win that game.

Syracuse has faced the Kansas State Wildcats twice in team history, both times in post-season bowl games. The first meeting was the 1997 Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. K-State took that game 35-18, however Syracuse would take the 2nd match up in 2001 at the Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. Syracuse defeated the Wildcats 26-3 on that fateful day, which means that the 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl will be the rubber match.

Kansas State's biggest weapon is Daniel Thomas, a 6'2" 228 pound running back out of HIlliard, Florida. The senior rushed for 1,495 yards this season and 16 touchdowns, breaking the 100 yard plateau seven times in twelve games, and rushing for over 200 yards twice. In the final game of the regular season, Thomas rushed for 269 yards and 2 TDs on the road against North Texas. For Syracuse's 39th best rushing defense in the nation (that is playing without starters Max Suter and Andrew Lewis), stopping Daniel Thomas will be a difficult but necessary challenge to be victorious on this day.

At the quarterback spot Carson Coffman, a senior out of Peculiar, MO (6'3" 211 pounds) will be taking the majority of the snaps. This season Coffman's completed 154 of 240 (64.2%) passing attempts for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. Coffman's best game of the season came back on September 11th when he threw for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns against Missouri State. Coffman also ran for a season high 45 yards against Nebraska back on October 7th.

Also playing quarterback is sophomore Collin Klein, who is expected to see action in the Pinstripe Bowl. While Klein (6'5" 233 pounds) out of Loveland, Colorado has only thrown 1 touchdown pass this season and 138 yards on 18 passing attempts, he is the 2nd leading rusher on the team behind Daniel Thomas. Klein has rushed for 430 yards on 75 attempts, for six touchdowns. Rutgers used the wildcat formation effectively against the Orangemen, something you can bet K-State's coaches are aware of.

On the receiving end, Aubrey Quarles (5'11" 202 pounds) is leading the Wildcats with 47 catches for 685 yards and five touchdowns. Chris Harper (6'1" 234 pounds) has 20 catches for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns. Daniel Thomas has the 3rd most receptions on the team (26) for 163 yards. The Orangemen have the 6th best passing defense in the nation, only allowing 157.58 yards per game this season. With the Wildcat's limited passing attack, attention must be paid to the ground game.

For the Orangemen on offense, Ryan Nassib will be leading the team out of the huddle. Nassib has thrown for 2,095 yards on 189 of 337 passing attempts. He has thrown for 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions this season, and has a quarterback rating of 119.2. Kansas State boasts the 48th ranked passing defense in the nation, so there's a chance Nassib will be able to exploit their secondary for some big chunks of yardage as the Wildcats allow 212.25 yards per game on average through the air.

Syracuse's receiving group, which was banged up at the end of the season and thus much less ineffective, has had the benefit of having the past month off to rest and recover. Van Chew has pulled down 41 catches for 611 yards and 5 touchdowns to lead the Orangemen this season. Second is Alec Lemon who has 30 catches for 377 yards and 4 scores.

Marcus Sales emerged as a great pass catching option. After not factoring in the offense at all for the first 9 games of the season, Sales has lead the team in receiving yardage the final three games of the season. Sales finished the regular season with 21 catches for 242 yards and 1 score.

Nick Provo, tight end, has also been a reliable target for Ryan Nassib, grabbing 32 catches for 356 yards and 1 touchdown. Antwon Bailey has been another trusty target for Ryan Nassib, grabbing 32 catches of his own for 277 yards and 3 scores out of the backfield.

On the ground, its all Delone Carter all day. Carter has rushed for 1,035 yards on 204 carries, his second consecutive 1,000 yard season, and 7 touchdowns. Carter left the final regular season game against Louisville with an undisclosed injury, however he is expected to be 100% come game time. Delone Carter has 2,906 yards in his Syracuse career, ranking him 4th All-Time and just 28 yards behind #3 leading rusher Larry Csonka.

Complimenting Carter is Antown Bailey. Bailey has rushed for 504 yards on 107 carries and 2 touchdowns to go along with his 32 catches for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns. That gives Bailey 781 all-purpose yards and 6 total touchdowns in 2010. Kansas State's rushing defense ranks 117th in the nation, and that is no typo. They give up 229.1 yards per game on average on the ground, and are quite literally the 4th worst rushing defense in the FBS. Hopefully Carter and Bailey are ready to feast on them, as Syracuse loves to pound the running game and play smash-mouth football.

Kickoff for the Pinstripe Bowl is at 3:20PM on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN. Be sure to follow @CuseConnection on twitter, as we will be tweeting live all day from our Manhattan Pre-Game party and will be at Yankee Stadium for kickoff. Be sure to check back with The Cuse Connection for post game recap and analysis!

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