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Wednesday, December 29, 2010
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Keys for K-State

By David Ubben

1. Stop giving up big plays. It's become a bit of what Kansas State's defense does, but it has to stop if the Wildcats are going to win this game. They gave up 75 plays of more than 10 yards in 12 games. Only Kansas surrendered more, and it gave up 76. K-State gave up 28 plays of more than 20 yards and 19 plays of more than 30 yards. Longer than 40 yards? 11 plays. Seven went for more than 50 yards and four went for more than 60. No team in the Big 12 gave up more than all of those, and Kansas State's offense isn't explosive enough to keep up if that continues in the Pinstripe Bowl.

2. Keep playing disciplined football. As bad as Kansas State has been defensively, they've been solid when it comes to not making mental mistakes that give opponents free yards. Kansas State has allowed just 466 penalty yards, which is eighth fewest nationally, and if they eliminate the above character flaw of big plays and accentuate the discipline they've displayed elsewhere, the Wildcats will be tough to beat. Syracuse, meanwhile, ranks 95th nationally in the stat with 741 penalty yards on 90 flags to the Wildcats' 66.

3. Win the rushing battle. It's pretty simple here. Everything that comes with doing this -- time of possession, points, momentum -- can mean a win in a game that'll feature a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Syracuse's Delone Carter and Kansas State's Daniel Thomas. It's not a cure-all -- turnovers and missed opportunities can swing the game one way or the other -- but the safe bet in this game is whichever team rushes for more yards leaves with a win.