SU fans join pep rally before Pinstripe Bowl

Yankee Stadium a few hours before kickoff Thursday / photo: Niko Tamurian

SU fans and supporters gathered in front of Yankee Stadium Thursday afternoon for a pep rally before the big game vs. Kansas State.

The Syracuse Orange Marching Band, along with the football team TMs cheerleaders, led the fans in cheers and songs two and a half hours before game time while they waited for the Stadium gates to open. CNY Central sports director John Evenson reports that the crowd is sporting more orange than purple (the Wildcats TM primary color), and there is a definitely a pro-SU buzz around the grounds.

This is the perfect holiday treat| to be able to watch my favorite team at Yankee Stadium said Rick Harter, a lifelong SU fan who lives on Long Island.

Another fan said the atmosphere made him feel like they took Yankee Stadium and plopped it into Syracuse.

Evenson says the weather is great for football, sunny and warmer than the past few days. There is still evidence of the recent snowstorm, but fans seem to be in good spirits as they make their way into the building. Evenson says a cheer erupted from the crowd when the main gate opened to allow fans to filter inside.

The pep rally was a great experience, but the real celebration hasn TMt even started yet. The inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl kicks off around 3:20 p.m. on ESPN.

More inside Yankee Stadium from CNY Central sports reporter Niko Tamurian:

The scene is set here in the Bronx for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. What an honor it is to be on this field covering such a historic game.

The Orange are wearing their home uniforms, with blue jerseys and orange pants. Kansas State is in their road white jersey and silver pants outfits.

All the hype this week, all the special events that went on, all have led up to this. The "Vegas" line has the game at an even odds, and no doubt Orange fans are hoping for a victory and an eight-win season culminated with New York's College Team winning at the home of the New York Yankees.

As an Orange fan it pains me to say, but in some ways, the outcome of the game isn't the most important thing here. What's most important is everything the bowl game allowed the Orange to do. The extra 15 practices, the extra exposure to the nation, and yes, all those recruits the Orange are targeting, including NYC native Ishaq Williams - who is a five-star athlete deciding between SU and Notre Dame.

Most of all, this inuaugural Pinstripe Bowl - the first ever bowl at Yankee Stadium - is a downright exclamation point that SU football is back and a fantastic future lies ahead.

More from CNY Central reporter Brandon Roth in DeWitt:

Earlier Thursday, hundreds of Syracuse University football fans on their way to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City got an early start to their trip.

More than 300 fans boarded Caz Limo charter buses at 8:00 this morning. The buses left from DeWitt, and will return late tonight after the game.

This is the first bowl game in six years for the Orange , and SU fans say they were not going to miss the chance to watch the first bowl game played in the new Yankee stadium.

SU fan Steve Rotunno, a Pop Warner youth football coach for West Genesee, was heading down with some of his players to see the game. "The kids are really excited. This trip was a Christmas present for them, and it gives them one more game for the season," he says.

Fans like Janice Kawigya were bundled up and ready for the game to begin, even though kickoff was seven and a half hours away. "I'm very excited. I can't wait. We're going to kick their butts. It's way overdue," she said.

Caz Limo owner Paul Dugal says calls started coming in for tickets to the game within minutes of the annoucement that Syracuse would be playing in New York City , and continued right up until early this morning. The company is sending a total of 7 buses down to the game.

Dugal says the game is adding a much needed boost during what is normally a slow time for his business. "We didn't have a charter with seven buses on this date until they announced the Pinstripe Bowl. We are between seasons with the colleges out on break. Our busses are just sitting here, so the timing is perfect" he says.

The Pinstripe Bowl kicks off just after 3:00 this afternoon from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The game will be televised on ESPN.