The Pinstripe Bowl can't get here soon enough for Syracuse running back Delone Carter.
After an injury-plagued career, the fifth-year senior will finally get to play in his first postseason game against Kansas State on Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. That alone has him excited.
Add in the blizzard that hit New York on Sunday, chilly temperatures that are expected to linger throughout the week and the Wildcats' struggling run defense ... well it's safe to say Carter hasn't been afraid to provide a little bulletin-board material for his opponent.
"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," Carter told the Associated Press. "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."
Carter has reason to speak confidently. The 5-foot-10, 215-pounder has fought through constant questions about his size, a dislocated hip that held him out of every game in 2007 and several injuries since to rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons.
On top of his long list of injuries, he was briefly suspended from Syracuse in February when he was charged with misdemeanor assault following a snowball-throwing incident on campus. Carter didn't play in the Orange's annual spring scrimmage in April, and his bio was deleted from the team's media guide until he was granted a request for reinstatement in August. He was given one last chance to play college football, and he vowed to take advantage of it.
With one game remaining in his college career, Carter needs 29 yards to move past Larry Csonka (2,934 yards from 1965-67) in the record books and become the third leading rusher in Syracuse history.
And if Carter can manage to put up big numbers like similar running backs who have faced K-State this season — Baylor's Jay Finley (250 yards), Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter (143), Colorado's Rodney Stewart (195) and North Texas's Lance Dunbar (270) —he and capable backup Antwon Bailey could be the deciding factor in the Pinstripe Bowl.
K-State and its run defense, which allowed a Big 12-worst 229.1 yards per game, provide little evidence to the contrary.
"They have two strong running backs," said K-State defensive end Antonio Felder. "Carter is very strong, and the other guy has speed to him. They can bring a lot to the table if we don't step up and make the plays. We have to play them well."
With motivation on his side, Carter has done everything in his power to take advantage of his last college season.
"It definitely means a lot," Carter told the AP, "where I came from and what I went through since being here my freshman year. It definitely was a roller-coaster, this journey at Syracuse, the ups and the downs. But I feel like everything I've been through I've become a better man and a better person for it. I feel like it's going to have a great effect on me for the rest of my life."
Blizzard causes changes, delays — While a blizzard slammed into the Northeast on Sunday and commercial flights in and out of New York were canceled, K-State's chartered plane out of Topeka arrived ahead of schedule. The Wildcats spent Monday morning touring New York, visiting the Empire State Building and Ground Zero.
But inclement weather did change K-State's schedule somewhat. Instead of practicing at 2 p.m. on an outdoor field at nearby Columbia University, the team scrimmaged in the New York Giants indoor complex at 12:30 p.m.
Also, the Pinstripe Bowl's official kickoff event, originally scheduled for Monday at the Times Square Visitor Center, was moved to 2 p.m. today. K-State athletics director John Currie will be joined by New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and select Syracuse officials at the event.
Pinstripe Bowl spirit — The Empire State Building will split its world-famous tower lights for Syracuse and K-State on Wednesday. The North and South sides of the building will be lit orange and white, while the West and East sides will be lit purple and white.