NCF Nation: 2010 pinstripe bowl preview

The inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl will almost certainly be known for its weather. Fans and media experienced travel troubles thanks to 20 inches of snow in New York City on Sunday, which forced a Kansas State team practice to become a walk-through in the Wildcats' hotel.

There's still a game to be played, though, snow or else.

WHO TO WATCH: Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Wildcats running back Daniel Thomas earns the headlines, and senior quarterback Carson Coffman plays more, but when Klein's legs get churning, Kansas State's offense can look unstoppable. Against Texas, the Wildcats jumped to a 39-0 lead and threw just four passes because the duo of Klein and Thomas was gashing the Longhorns defense every time either carried the ball. Coffman said Tuesday he wasn't sure if he was going to start, but whether he does or not, Klein should get plenty of playing time, and the more effective he is, the more he'll play. For a Kansas State quarterback situation that's "complicated," it's that simple.

WHAT TO WATCH: Kansas State's defense vs. Syracuse running back Delone Carter. Earlier this week, Carter had this to say about his team: "Once we get out there and I’m healthy and my O-line is healthy and our receivers are healthy, we’re going to dominate. I know defenders don’t like to get hit when it’s cold out, and that kind of gets me excited. I won’t mind the cold. ... I’m used to it. It’s not going to bother me. I’ll go a little harder."

That may be true, and considering the way the Wildcats defense has played lately, he's got reason to believe that's what will happen. K-State gave up 270 yards on the ground to North Texas' Lance Dunbar and 195 yards to Colorado's Rodney Stewart in its final two games. Carter could be due for another big day, or the Wildcats defense could be due for a big statement. The outcome of the game depends on it.

WHY WATCH: For all the action in baseball stadiums this year, the Big 12 hasn't been affected by it yet. The allure and novelty of playing at new Yankee Stadium is a bit new for us folks in Flyover Country, and hosting a bowl is new for the folks at Yankee Stadium, who haven't done so since the 1962 Gotham Bowl.

PREDICTION: Kansas State 28, Syracuse 24. I'm going against my gut a bit here, but not much about Syracuse's offense excites me, and if it's a cold, windy day at the ballpark, I'll take the zone-read scheme with Klein and Thomas over anything Syracuse will bring.
Syracuse is bowling again. The Orange are back in the postseason for the first time since 2004, and they celebrate by ringing in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl in their home state. Here's a quick preview:

WHO TO WATCH: Syracuse running back Delone Carter. The Orange offense really struggled down the stretch of the regular season, and Carter remains its one true, dependable force. The muscular, 215-pound senior isn't a big-play threat most of the time, but he can wear down defenses with his straight-ahead, physical style. He went over 1,000 yards this year for the second straight season, and Syracuse must establish the ground game with him and Antwon Bailey to set up play-action. And in cold, potentially snowy conditions, the running game becomes even more vital.

WHAT TO WATCH: The Syracuse defense vs. Kansas State's run game. There's little secret to what the Wildcats like to do: Get the ball in the hands of playmaking tailback Daniel Thomas as much as possible. They're not a big passing team, so Thomas gets the bulk of the work and will take snaps out of the Wildcat formation. The Orange defense was this team's strength all season. The suspension of tackle Andrew Lewis could hurt, but Chandler Jones, Bud Tribbey and Mikhail Marinovich are stout up front, while linebackers Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith are among the best in the Big East. The Orange will need safety help in the box as well.

WHY TO WATCH: To see Syracuse return to the postseason. To see postseason football being played for the first time in new Yankee Stadium. To see an old-school, grind-it-out physical game in cold weather, the way football was meant to be played. To see an up-and-coming coach (Syracuse's Doug Marrone) against a living legend (K-State's Bill Snyder).

PREDICTION: Syracuse should have a home-field feel in the Bronx, and I think the Orange defense can do a good job slowing down Thomas. Still, Kansas State has the ability to make big plays, while Syracuse has only lurched forward in small chunks and will be missing an underrated field-position weapon in punter Rob Long. The Orange keep it close, but fall 17-14.