Posted by Tom Fornelli as part of the blog's Bowl Bonanza series. Read our preview for today's Independence Bowl here.
The Basics: Kansas State (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5), Dec. 30, 3:20pm EST
Why You Should Watch: Because don't you want to be able to tell your children and grandchildren someday that you were there, at home, to watch the first ever New Era Pinstripe Bowl inside the legendary two-year old -- it may be 22 years old by then -- Yankee Stadium? Who could pass that opportunity up? Plus, given the latest weather patterns to hit New York this week, the game could be played under two feet of snow.
Keys to Victory for Kansas State: It seems pretty generic to say it, but it's true. In order for Kansas State to beat Syracuse the Wildcats are going to have to win the battle up front on offense. Syracuse has a strong defensive line anchored by defensive tackles Bud Tribbey and Andrew Lewis. The interior of KSU's line, which has been strong all season, will have to neutralize those two and get to the second level and take linebackers Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue out of the equation.
This will be a key for Daniel Thomas to find room, and the more successful that Daniel Thomas is, the more successful Kansas State generally is.
It's likely that Kansas State will also feature backup QB Collin Klein a bit in this game as well. He saw a lot more playing time towards the end of the season, and he's more athletic and elusive than Carson Coffman is, and at times looked unstoppable. It will be important for Kansas State to be successful on the ground because its passing attack has been suspect this season, and Syracuse is strong in pass coverage.
Keys to Victory for Syracuse: It's not exactly a secret that Syracuse's strength is its defense. The Orange are ranked only 99th in the country with 21.0 points per game, but are ranked 13th in the nation on defense, allowing only 18.1 points per game.
That formula shouldn't change in this game, but Syracuse does have a chance to be a bit more successful on offense. Particularly in the rushing game, as Kansas State has been pretty underwhelming against the run on defense this season. So Syracuse's best bet would be to feed the ball to Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey and pound the Wildcats defense into submission.
There may be room for Syracuse to throw the ball a bit better than they have this season, but Ryan Nassib doesn't have many options around him and he can be a bit slow in making a decision. So Syracuse would be better served to pick its spots in the passing game, and let Carter and Bailey carry the load.
The Pinstripe Bowl is like: an actual baseball game at Yankee Stadium between the Yankees and Red Sox. Not because this is such a strong rivalry, or because the stands will be packed, but because the final score is likely going to be 14-13 and the game will take over four hours.