Back in August, Syracuse football Head Coach Doug Marrone declared his goal for the season was to lead the Orange to its first bowl game since 2004. It sounded like a bunch of rhetoric; the same cliché goal that every coach claims he has at the beginning of the season whether he believes it or not. Four months later, Marrone has turned Orange nation into a group of believers. SU will take on Kansas State in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.
The Wildcats have been waiting since 2006 to play a relevant football game in December. Kansas State is lead by senior quarterback Carson Coffman, who passed for 1, 832 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. His favorite target is Aubrey Quarles. Quarles made 47 receptions for 685 yards and five touchdowns.
SU’s QB Ryan Nassib passed for 2, 095 yards and 16 TDs in his first full-season as the Orange’s starting QB. The Orange does not have a stand out receiver. Four players have more than 30 receptions. Van Chew led all receivers with 41. The receiving corps lacks speed and a deep threat, which leads to Nassib’s long passes often not getting caught.
Both the Wildcats and Orange are threats to run the football. Delone Carter wracked up 1, 010 yards and seven touchdowns for the ‘Cuse while Daniel Thomas picked up 1,472 yards on the ground for 16 touchdowns for Kansas State.
Syracuse has been extremely solid on defense, thanks in great part to defensive coordinator Scott Shafer. SU’s opponents are averaging just 295 yards per game against the ‘Cuse defense.
SU will be without captain and star punter Rob Long, who underwent surgery on Dec. 14 to remove a brain tumor. On Dec. 20, a post-operation followup revealed malignant cells in the tumor. He will undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatment starting in January. Long will be on the sidelines for the game and is traveling with the team.
The Orange should have a considerable home field advantage. There are a ton of Syracuse alums in the city. (Shameless plug: I’ll be there! Follow me on twitter for live updates!!) This may not be a point in SU’s favor, though. The Orange played abysmal football at home down the stretch of the season, going 0-4 against Division I-A opponents.
SU: 24 Kansas State: 21
About the Author
Written by Beth Ann Clyde
I graduated from Syracuse University in 2009 and can count the number of times I witnessed the Orange win a football game on two hands.