No question, this one is for Rob.
I'm personally in unfamiliar territory. While I've been to the last two bowl games Syracuse has played in, including the last bowl win on this very day nine year ago. What is unfamiliar is the fact that for the entire time this blog has been in existence we have not gone to a bowl game. Therefore no criteria on how to preview or cover a bowl game here at Orange::44 has been established. But we will blaze new ground here and discuss Syracuse's first bowl game since 2004.
Syracuse enters this game, as does Kansas State, after a month of rest and preparation. That was much needed for the Orange as they were clearly beat up in the final month of the season and failed to win either of their last two games at home, even one against Boston College. The big problem was offense as Syracuse was unable to convert on third downs, sustain drives, and move the ball. The defense also had some set backs as they were unable to key in on various running backs and allowed teams to methodically move the ball down the field. But that was over a month ago now. Syracuse is well rested, healthy, and despite having lower numbers for various reasons, look to put a cap on an overall outstanding season compared to where we were a season ago. Syracuse will first and foremost use Delone Carter to establish a running game. While the weather is predicted to be sunny and clear and around 40 degrees of course the weather is never guaranteed. This game could be a game of inches and ground battles and Delone Carter is the perfect back for this kind of game. Some would argue the kind of game football was made for. This is similar to what Kansas State has done all year. They are a run first, pass later kind of team. They are headed by Daniel Thomas running the ball over and over. They are averaging 206 rushing yards a game as a team, good enough for 20th in FBS and Thomas himself has 16 touchdowns on the year. They run a lot of plays out of the wildcat formation and Syracuse will have their hands full limiting Kansas state to only a couple yards a carry. The interesting news is that Syracuse is actually averaging more passing yards a game than Kansas State. Carson Coffman is behind center for KState. He has about 200 less passing yards and four less touchdowns on the season than Nassib, but he does have a 64.2% completion rate, higher than Nassib's 56.1. But again this game will probably need to be won on the ground overall to allow play action for Syracuse and get a few big passes in. Syracuse will also need big games from Bud Tribby, Chandler Jones, Doug Hogue, and Darell Smith, who need to not take any plays off and continue to get penetration to stop the Kansas State run. The major X factor will be Syracuse special teams as they are without a true special teams coach and P Rob Long, who was a key piece of several victories through field position. He is also the holder for field goals and extra points. He has been in NYC working with the players to get them ready for this game to perform as well as he would have, but the questions still remain. If Syracuse can play well on special teams and limit field position for Kansas State they have a real shot in this game. The crowd and the weather will be heavily in favor for Syracuse, who will be used to the snow and will have a major contingency of Orange fans in the stadium. While that is nice, the players still have to play. I think they will be focused and ready and honestly I have a feeling they might be better prepared and focused than Kansas State due to not having to travel that far and they are used to this kind of snow. I think it will be a close, back and forth game. The type of game we saw at Rutgers or maybe even against West Virginia. I try in every preview to give an objective view of how Syracuse will do and then guess the outcome accordingly. While Syracuse has the potential to lose this game like all the others I just refuse to pick against Syracuse in this one. I like our chances and I look for Syracuse to pull off the win 20 to 17.
I'll be in NYC starting this evening doing some celebrating, but hopefully we'll be turning around and doing the same thing Thursday night. I'm guessing since this game is outdoors, and because the game is nationally available, I will not be doing much on the Twitter (@BH_Orange44) during the game, but I'll try to capture the before and after and all of the cool things you might miss if you aren't there. Check out @JBren to see what he's up to as well. I'm sure he'll be Tweeting next to me. He can't help himself. I look forward to seeing several friends and bloggers in NYC so if you see me say hello. I'll be creeped out for a second but then be alright with it. Orange::44 will be on sabbatical until 2011, but look for full Pinstripe Bowl Coverage when we return to the home office, as well as Notre Dame coverage. Until then, enjoy the Pinstripe Bowl and have a very happy New Year!