Wildcats look to stop Freeny

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 28, 2001

Sports Editor

Kansas State has a simple formula when it comes to stopping Syracuse All-American defensive end Dwight Freeny.

Don’t throw the football.

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"They have one of the best defensive ends in the country," said Wildcats’ running back Josh Scobey about Freeny. "If you let him get going early and let him disrupt what you are doing, it will be a long day."

Freeny has feasted on dropback passers this season, recording an NCAA-record 17.5 sacks. He also has 25 tackles for losses.

The Orangemen (9-3 overall, 6-1 Big East) will play Kansas State (6-5 overall, 3-5 Big 12) on Saturday in the Insight.com Bowl at Phoenix, Arizona’s Sun Devil Stadium.

Kansas State will counter Freeny and Syracuse’s aggressive rush with an offense built around the run. Much of the load will fall upon Scobey, who has rushed for 1,263 yards this season and 15 touchdowns. K-State is ranked fifth in the nation rushing the football.

"We want to establish our running game real early in the game and make that our strong point," said Wildcats’ offensive lineman Andy Eby.

Although stopping the run isn’t what Syracuse does best (72nd in rush defense), the Orangemen do know how to force turnovers (30 total in 2001).

Syracuse also likes to run the football, led by third all-time leading rusher James Mungro. Mungro has rushed for 1,170 yards this year, but may find the going tough against the Wildcats’ No. 3 defense.

This game will be a rematch of the 1997 Fiesta Bowl, when Kansas State beat Syracuse 35-18.

Toledo (9-2) snapped Marshall’s four-year dominance of the MAC and will take the latter’s place in the Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Mich., against Cincinnati (7-4).

The Rockets are led by tailback Chester Taylor, who ran over, around, and through Marshall in the MAC title game for 188 yards on 32 carries.

Taylor is also a versatile threat in the Rockets’ backfield throwing two touchdowns this season on pass plays.

Freshman Gino Guidulgi was Newcomer of the Year in Conference USA as Cincinnati’s quarterback.

Texas Tech (7-4) will look to pass Iowa (6-5) silly in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Tx.

The Red Raiders throw the ball more then any other team in the country, with quarterback Kliff Kingsbury averaging almost 52 passes per game.

Kingsbury has a 69 percent completion rate, but the Red Raiders hardly ever go deep, preferring instead to utilize the short passing game. Ricky Williams has caught 92 balls, but averages only 6.7 yards per catch.

Iowa will live and die by four-year running back Ladell Betts and hope to wear down the less-physical Red Raiders by the second half.