By Mark Janssen
John Currie has always said one of the top goals of the Kansas State athletic department is to give the student-athletes "... a world-class experience. I think we're going to have that in one of the world-class cities of the world."
That city is New York City where the Wildcats will play in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl against the Syracuse Orange on Dec. 30, in Yankee Stadium. The game will have a 2:30 (Central time) kickoff and be televised nationally on ESPN.
In making the announcement on Friday, Currie, K-State's athletics director, said, "It's a great opportunity to expose our university and remind people around the country that we are a national university with over 200,000 alumni, half of which live around the country and the world."
He would add, "We look forward to turning the Big Apple purple."
This will be K-State's 14th postseason opportunity, which includes 12 under the leadership of coach Bill Snyder.
"I appreciate these new bowls and the opportunity to play," said Snyder, who guided the Wildcats into postseason play for 11 consecutive years from 1993-2003. "I'm constantly asked about whether there are too many bowls, and the answer is, 'No, there aren't too many bowl games.' I understand what the bowl system has meant to Kansas State."
"I appreciate the Yankees for being about young people and the growth of young people," Snyder added.
Kansas State has not been to a postseason bowl game since attending the first-ever Texas Bowl in 2006, and not one current Wildcat played in that game.
"This means everything," said senior Zach Kendall. "We want to leave our mark. We had some other goals get away from us, but we want to go out on a good note."
Fellow senior Aubrey Quarles added, "This game is a true blessing. I'm excited about being able to strap that Wildcat helmet on one last time."
LITTLE APPLE TO BIG APPLE HISTORY
This will mark the third trip into New York City for a football game with the others being against Army (a 21-6 loss) in 1966, and at Manhattan College in 1934 (a 13-13 tie), which was KSU's Missouri Valley title season under Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf.
K-State's most recent trip into the Big Apple came during the 2008-09 basketball year when the Wildcats played Notre Dame at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Prior to that, K-State played at the Garden in the Final Four of the 1994 NIT when it lost games to Vanderbilt and Siena.
Wildcat basketball teams also made trips to NYC for the NCAA Final Four in 1948 (a loss to Holy Cross), plus games at Long Island University in 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951.
Syracuse said its acceptance "I dos" to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Thursday with athletics director Dr. Daryl Gross saying, "We get to spend a week down there with the New York media in, arguably, the greatest city in the world. We're elated."
Syracuse opened the year with a 6-2 record, but limped to the finish line losing three of its last four games. The wins this year were over Akron, Maine, Colgate, South Florida, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Rutgers. Its losses were to Washington, Pittsburgh, Louisville, UConn and Boston College.
Syracuse threw the ball for 2,136 yards this season with quarterback Ryan Nassib completing 56 percent with 16 TDs, while it rushed for 1,577 yards with Delone Carter totaling 1,035 yards and scoring seven times.
This will be the third time that K-State and Syracuse have collided in postseason play.
On Dec. 31, 1997, KSU's Michael Bishop out-dueled SU's Donovan McNabb, 35-18, in the Fiesta Bowl.
Bishop passed for 317 yards and four TDs, plus ran for 77 yards and accounted for a fifth score. Darnell McDonald had seven catches for 206 yards and three touchdowns.
Syracuse picked up some revenge on Dec. 29, 2001, with a 26-3 handling of the Wildcats at the Insight.com Bowl.
Ell Roberson was just 2-of-15 passing for 70 yards and sacked five times, while Marc Dunn completed 12-of-25 passes for 151 yards. Josh Scobey was the leading rusher, but with just 46 yards.
NOTRE DAME VS. ARMY
It was back on Nov. 20 that Notre Dame and Army played in the first college football game staged at the new Yankee Stadium with the Irish winning, 27-3.
Of the experience Army senior executive associate athletics director Bob Beretta said, "It is an amazing experience that I'm sure will provide a lifetime of memories."
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said after the game, "New York is a lot of things and what it was tonight was a college football town. It was an exciting atmosphere. I know that our kids fed off the energy that was here in New York."
The football field in Yankee Stadium will run from home plate to the right field bleachers. The stadium's video board features a high-definition screen that is 59 feet by 101 feet, covers 6,000 square yards and features 8.6 million LEDs. It's the highest resolution video board ever delivered to any sports stadium in the world.
"It's absolutely massive and really adds to the spectator's enjoyment of the game," said Currie, who visited Yankee Stadium this past summer.
TICKETS AND TRAVEL
Currie indicated that the majority of the 2,300 tickets that the Big 12 committed to have been sold, but another allotment was in hand.
"We know that every Wildcat fan will not be able to go to the game, but the ones who can will, and those who cannot will be able to watch the team in another nationally televised game," said Currie in reference to ESPN.
Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets for the game through the K-State Athletics Department at the official online bowl headquarters - www.k-statesports.com/bowlgame. Tickets may also be purchased via phone (1-800-221-CATS) or in person at the Athletics Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum beginning Monday at 8:30 a.m.
All ticket orders made through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office will be assigned based upon the bowl priority point system, which is available on the official online bowl page.
The K-State Alumni Association will also provide official travel packages to the bowl game, with or without charter air service. Visit the Alumni Association's official bowl travel page - www.k-statesportstravel.com - for travel package information.
THOMAS NAMED TO AP'S FIRST TEAM
Led by senior running back Daniel Thomas' first-team selection, Kansas State had seven players named to the Associated Press All-Big 12 teams.
Joining Thomas on the list were offensive linemen Zach Kendall and Wade Weibert on the second team, as well as honorable mention selections David Garrett, Stephen Harrison, William Powell and Ty Zimmerman.
Thomas, who earned second-team honors from the league's coaches on Tuesday, was named to the first team by the AP for a second straight season. Thomas is ranked among the top running backs in the nation, helping the Wildcats earn a trip to their first bowl game since 2006. A Doak Walker Award semifinalist, Thomas has recorded the second-most rushing yards in a season at K-State with 1,495 in 2010, while his 2,760 career rushing yards are third all-time at Kansas State. He ended the regular season last Saturday at North Texas on a high note, finishing the contest with 269 yards, the third most in a single game in school history.
Weibert and Kendall have helped pave the way for a Wildcat rushing attack that averaged 206.0 yards a game this season and totaled 37 rushing touchdowns, the fifth most in school history. Weibert, a preseason candidate for the Rimmington Trophy, has started every game the past two years at Kansas State, including 23 of the 24 at center, while Kendall has an offensive high 29 career starts under his belt.
POWELL UP FOR RUDY AWARD
Kansas State running back/kick returner William Powell is one of 55 players nationally and five from the Big 12 Conference to be named a candidate for the Rudy Award, which honors student-athletes who demonstrate exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their collegiate football teams, the Rudy Foundation has announced.
Powell led the nation in kick returns for a majority of the 2010 season and currently ranks second with a kickoff return average of 34.6 yards, thanks in part to four returns covering more than 50 yards, including a 100-yarder at Baylor and a 62-yarder against Texas. His average is 0.2 yards per return shy of the Big 12 record of 34.8 by Oklahoma State's Chris Massey in 2001.
A native of Duncanville, Texas, Powell also has averaged 10.9 yards per carry at running back and has scored four touchdowns on just 23 carries.
Three finalists for the award will be chosen by the Selection Committee, as well as through fan voting, and honored at the Priority Payment Systems Awards Ceremony to be held in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Convention on January 11, 2011, in Dallas, Texas. Rudy Ruettiger will personally present the awards.
Fans may cast their vote for the award by visiting www.CollegeRudyAwards.com.