Big 12 on the spot: New Era Pinstripe Bowl

December, 21, 2010
12/21/10
11:15
AM ET
Kansas State is back in a bowl for the first time since 2006, but they won't get to spend any time on the beaches or warmth of Florida, Arizona or Texas.

Instead, they've been shipped up to New York to play Syracuse in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

So, who needs to step up for the Wildcats to come back to Manhattan with a win?

Quarterback Collin Klein. Risky, perhaps, considering that Klein could within reason not see a snap against the Orange. But he should. The former receiver added an effective zone-read attack to the Wildcats offense late in the season. Against Texas and in spurts against Missouri, he looked unstoppable when paired with running back Daniel Thomas.

Carson Coffman is the most accomplished passer on the Kansas State roster, and as such, he earns plenty of playing time. But an otherwise simple plan for stopping Kansas State (load the box with 7-9 defenders, stop Daniel Thomas) becomes way, way more complex with Klein to account for.

Syracuse has a solid defense; it led the Big East in pass defense and finished No. 2 in total defense while allowing just over 18 points a game to rank 13th nationally. In short, it's a defense that is very capable of stopping Thomas.

The best way to get the big back loose is to loosen up the box. Coffman's arm isn't going to do it. Klein's legs will. If defenses don't account for him, Klein can burn them. If that happens, Kansas State has a chance to win easily. If Coffman hands off to Thomas 30 times and the senior just runs into a wall of offensive linemen and defenders, it'll be an ugly game that Syracuse likely wins.

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