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New Era Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Kansas State vs. Syracuse

Kansas State vs. Syracuse

Thursday, December 30, 2010 3:30 PM ET ESPN

Laying the scene

Kansas State returns to the bowl season for the first time since 2006 when they fell to Rutgers in the Texas Bowl. Of the Wildcats' 14 bowl appearances, Bill Snyder has taken them to 12, although this marks the first bowl appearance for Snyder since returning to the team last season. Syracuse returns to the bowl season for the first time since 2004 when they lost the Champs Sports Bowl to Georgia Tech. The Orange were one of the biggest surprises in the country this season, especially in late October when they sat 6-2 and 3-1 in the Big East coming off of a 4-8 season in 2009. Kansas State sat 5-1 in mid-October, but has lost four of its last six games. The Wildcats and Orange have met twice before in the bowl season (1997 and 2001), splitting the two games.

What Kansas State has to do to win

In their seven wins, the Orange defense has not allowed more than 14 points. In their five losses, teams average 30.6 points. To beat the Orange, Kansas State will lean on Daniel Thomas, who rushed for 1,495 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He's had more than 25 attempts in four games this season including 36 in the regular season finale win over North Texas in which he rushed for 269 yards. If the Wildcats hope to come away with the win, they'll have to continue to ride Thomas to victory against a defense that ranks fifth in total defense and pass defense, but is 42nd against the run, allowing an average of 137.42 yards per game. In games in which the Orange allows more than 110 yards this season, they are 2-5 with the two wins coming over Colgate and Rutgers. In games in which the Orange allows fewer than 110 yards, they are 5-0. The Wildcats must have success on the ground.

What Syracuse has to do to win

As evidenced above, the Orange must stop the run and stop it early. If they allow Thomas to have his way, they'll have no shot in this one. With a top five total defense and the 13th scoring defense, this team also has to find a way to make it work offensively. It's a safe bet that Thomas will find some success against the Orange and that Kansas State, who average 33.6 points per game, will put some points on the board. Syracuse has had trouble putting points on the board and average 21 per game, but against the 106th ranked total defense and 73rd ranked scoring defense, they should be able to find a way to do it. Just as Kansas State will look to move the ball on the ground, Delone Carter and the Syracuse ground game will look to find success against the 118th ranked rushing defense in the country.

The call

Kansas State. This will be an interesting ground battle as both teams will look to exploit weaknesses in the opposition's rushing defense. Whereas Kansas State has struggled to stop rushers this season, allowing 229.08 yards per game on the ground, they've been able to ride their offense to victories. Syracuse relies more heavily on its defense to come away with wins, as the offense averages just 21 points per game. The edge goes to Kansas State, whose rushing attack I look to carry them to victory in spite of one of the worst rushing defenses in the country. - Danny Hobrock

(Note: I feel obligated to note that this game will be played in Yankee Stadium. The first postseason college football game in the Bronx in 48 years. So there that is.)

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

Email Danny at or follow him on Twitter at DannyHobrock

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