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What if... Kansas State doesn’t get excessive celebration penalty vs. Syracuse?

In an alternate universe, Earth-44 to be exact, Syracuse football looks ever so slightly different than the one we know. Welcome to our Syracuse football-themed “what If” series.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Kansas State v Syracuse Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Thanks to the powers of discarded Food Lion produce and dishonored contracts, I have found a way to view an alternate universe named Earth-44. Every time I visit this place, something has changed with Syracuse Football. This series will report my chronological travels to this alternate earth and the TNIAAM staff tries to figure out what it all means, since I can only view the one game I end up in. Today, I saw the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl.

Scenario: I’ve landed in the year 2010, in the Bronx. This is weird, are the Syracuse Orange playing here? Oh right! The Pinstripe Bowl is happening.

Syracuse is running all over Kansas State but neither team can hold a lead. With 1:20 left, ‘Cuse is up eight and a simple pass turns into missed tackles and a touchdown for the Kansas State Wildcats’ Adrian Hilburn. He salutes the crowd and... nothing happens. The excessive celebration flag I remember from my post-Christmas haze is never thrown. As I stand in shock watching Kansas State and Syracuse huddle to set their plays, I’m sucked back to 2018 left wondering what would’ve happened next.

What does it mean?

Kevin Wall, who clearly has a better time machine: K-State converts the 2-pt conversion. On the ensuing kickoff, Prince-Tyson Gulley brings the kickoff to the 29 yard line and fans start to prepare for overtime. The Orange call a draw for Antwan Bailey and he breaks it for a 22 yard game. A quick slant to Alec Lemon gets Syracuse down to the Wildcats 38 yard line.

After a timeout Ryan Nassib throws two incomplete passes to Marcus Sales. Doug Marrone sends out two tight ends and Delone Carter on 3rd and 10 as Ross Krautman prepares for what would be a 50 yard FG attempt....but Carter breaks through a tired K State defensive front and suddenly finds himself running free in the secondary. He’s met by Tysyn Hartman at the 12 but Carter refuses to go down and drags Hartman into the end zone as the clock winds down. After a failed desperation kickoff return is ended by a Doug Hogue tackle, the Orange celebrate a 42-36 victory.

John Cassillo, who’s always a #disloyalidiot: I don’t buy the defense’s ability to stop K-State on that two-point try, or the ensuing plays in the likely overtime. That was still a rebuilding Syracuse team that scheduled well enough to get to the postseason (imagine that!). Failing to win the bowl game wouldn’t have derailed what Doug Marrone was building, but it might have taken some shine off the early days of the regime. Alas...

Personally, I think Kansas State would’ve converted the two point attempt. They ran a play action to an open man on our earth, and I think the play would’ve worked on Earth-44. Could Syracuse have moved the ball 55 some yards for a field goal to win in regulation? Probably. Defenses didn’t show up for this one, but it would’ve been close. If this had been allowed to play out into overtime, I think we see a crazy score a la 2011 Alamo Bowl. Who ultimately wins? My heart says Orange but this game was proof of one Bill C mantra: Bowl Games are Crapshoots.

Does Syracuse hold on without the penalty? How much faith do you have in that Orange defense? Share your own thoughts below.