CFN Bowl Analysis ...
Syracuse 36 ... Kansas St 34
It's a shame the best game of the bowl season so far will be remembered more for a moronic call by an official than for the phenomenal performances on both sides of the ball.
Of course Adrian Hilburn shouldn't have been flagged for saluting the crowd. Not in a situation like that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, rules are rules are rules, but that wasn't worth killing Kansas State's two-point attempt. Besides that, though, this was a terrific game that defied the weather and the supposedly mediocre offenses.
Kansas State's defense has been non-existent way too often throughout the season, but the problems have mostly come against the run. The emergence of Ryan Nassib and the Syracuse passing game was all about execution, a little trickery, and some terrific throws in poor conditions. Nassib and WR Marcus Sales showed that there really can be a little bit of pop to Syracuse football, and they finally opened things up a bit in a cathartic game that might show that finally, after several disastrous years, the Orange might be back as a real, live player in the Big East.
For Kansas State, showing off a passing attack was great, but unlike the play of Nassib, which can carry over into next year, this was it for Carson Coffman. The senior struggled to get the ball moving through the air with the nation's 97th ranked passing game, but Coffman was terrific completing 17-of-23 passes for 228 yards and two scores including several clutch plays to answer every Syracuse big play.
But Coffman couldn't keep Hilburn from saluting.
- Delone Carter can play on someone's NFL team. He might not be big, and he might not be a workhorse, but the focal point of the Syracuse attack will find a job as someone's No. 3 jack-of-all-trades back.
- It seems like Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas had a huge game, running for 90 yards and three scores and completing a 30-yard pass, but he was held in check by the Orange defense outside of his 51-yard dash.
- It hardly makes up for the bad call on the salute, but Kansas State caught a huge break in the second quarter on a personal foul call on a hit by SU's Phillip Thomas on Aubrey Quarles. Thomas hit Quarles on a shoulder to shoulder hit, but it was flagged for the hit being too high. The Wildcats went on to score a touchdown to tie it at 14.
- Where was the Syracuse pass rush? Kansas State has had problems all season long in pass protection, but the Orange only came up with one sack and that was on Thomas trying a halfback pass.
- Uhhhh, Big 12? Oklahoma State was great, but Missouri, Baylor, and now Kansas State haven't been able to hold up their end of the bargain.
Who says you need a warm weather or domed setting to host a high-quality bowl game?
Slick field and all, the Pinstripe Bowl far exceeded expectations in terms of entertainment value. A low-scoring, methodical game was anticipated between Syracuse and Kansas State, but instead, both schools got up and down the field and amassed almost 900 yards. Plus, Doug Marrone and Bill Snyder let their hair down with their decision-making and play-calling. In a sea of mundane blowouts, this track meet stood out, despite the field conditions and chilly temperature. I've got a hunch this bowl could have staying power, especially since it's such a unique venue for the kids, programs, and fan bases. Add the Pinstripe Bowl to the already enormous list of interesting things visitors can do in New York City in December.
- At least for one day, Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib was the Bronx Bomber. A middling passer throughout the year, he found Marcus Sales for three touchdowns of at least 36 yards. And how about Sales, whose three scores were two more than he had all year?
- It's hard not to feel a little bad for Kansas State WR Adrian Hilburn in the loss. After making a rather innocent salute following a late touchdown catch, he got flagged 15 yards, pushing the ‘Cats back for a near impossible two-point try to knot the game. The senior should have used better judgment, but it's not as if he was showing up the Orange.
- Just a hunch, but Syracuse RB Delone Carter has probably done some ice skating in his leisure. No player navigated the icy Yankee Stadium field better than No. 3, who went for almost 200 yards and two scores on the ground.
By Matt Zemek
Well, the first Pinstripe Bowl was the best game of the bowl season... until the end.
A fun little donnybrook unfolded on a cool but dry Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, perfect for playing winter hooky at a baseball park. The ambience and novelty of this bowl event were actually eclipsed and enhanced by the product on the field as well. Two quarterbacks redeemed themselves after difficult seasons. The two offensive coaching staffs went for broke in a perfect demonstration of how to attack a one-shot situation in which neither school had much of anything to lose. Skill people made plays, and the chessmasters exhausted all of their creativity. Syracuse and Kansas State put on a show worthy of the Yankee Stadium name.
And then came the flag... the flag thrown on Jake Locker of Washington against BYU in 2008, the flag thrown against A.J. Green of Georgia against LSU in 2009, and now the flag thrown against Kansas State receiver Adrian Hilburn on the next to last day of 2010. If you didn't see it, you surely read about it: Hilburn – in the process of scoring a touchdown that brought KSU within two points of tying the game with 1:13 left in regulation – made a quick, excited salute after getting tangled up with a Syracuse defender in the back of the end zone. The Big Ten crew called a celebration penalty, and the Orange naturally took the 15-yard mark-off on the tying 2-point conversion attempt. Kansas State failed on its attempt from the 18, and that was that. The Orange won by a 36-34 count, but they lost in the sense that their victory – a great moment for the program – will be overshadowed by this officiating controversy.
There's really too much to say about this incident for one relatively brief and contained bowl-game review, so let's put the heart of the matter front and center:
The NCAA doesn't pay athletes. It doesn't allow athletes to sell items they are given. It doesn't allow athletes to sell jerseys they wear and – in that sense – own. The NCAA doesn't allow athletes to profit from video games that use the images or likenesses of these players. The NCAA doesn't allow athletes to profit from the sales of jerseys they make popular with their feats on the field. That's a pretty anti-capitalist, anti-freedom agenda to be sure.
And now, the first Pinstripe Bowl has reminded us that for many years – and still today – the powers that be in college sports just can't (won't!) allow these athletes to celebrate a late-game touchdown that gave a team a chance to tie the score.
It's not too hard – or at least, it shouldn't be: You should never, ever taunt an opponent or show up a fellow competitor. That kind of act should draw a flag, because THAT kind of act represents truly unsportsmanlike conduct. However, any act that isn't personally directed toward an opponent should obviously be accepted by officials and – even more urgently – by the committees of people who formulate and/or revise the rules each offseason.
Please, college football governing bodies and rules tribunals: The on-field side of this sport needs to be legislated less, not more. Rules and rule provisions need to be simplified, not complicated. Points of emphasis for officials should be relaxed in most areas, not tightened. The provision saying that unsportsmanlike celebrations will be marked from the spot of the foul – a provision that is supposed to take effect in the 2011 season – needs to be struck down. PERIOD. Several other rules and rule interpretations that make no sense need to be removed from the rulebook. PERIOD.
And, last but certainly not least, as long as the multi-billion-dollar college sports industry prevents its main money-generators – THE PLAYERS! – from getting a cut of these vast rivers of cash, the very least that can be done is to allow these players to have fun on the field (as long as they don't insult opponents). Hasn't BCS head honcho Bill Hancock – along with phalanxes of sycophants – endlessly stressed the point that bowl games are a positive, memorable experience for student athletes? Hasn't Hancock resisted any sort of sensible college football reforms by emphasizing the value of playing in a bowl game? If that's all true, why wasn't a Kansas State receiver allowed to celebrate after making a significant play late in a bowl game... and not just any bowl game, but one of this year's two newly-added bowls?
The college sports industry is not only oppressive. It is stupid. Not only is it stupid, but it is out of touch with fans and players. Not only is it out of touch, it is becoming even more detached from sane positions instead of returning to some semblance of wisdom.