WHO: 6-6 Syracuse (ACC) vs. 8-4 Minnesota (Big Ten)
WHAT: Texas Bowl (8th year)
WHERE: Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas
WHEN: Dec. 27 at 6 p.m. ET
WHY: If you’re a fan of aerial circuses as part of your postseason bowl consumption, look elsewhere.
Nearly 70 percent of Minnesota’s plays on offense this season have been rushes, with Syracuse running the ball nearly 58 percent of the time when they have the ball. The Gophers are 33rd in the country in rushing yards per game at 200.9, while the Orange is close behind at 39th with 193.8 ypg. The two teams have combined for just 23 passing touchdowns; 23 quarterbacks at the FBS level have thrown for more scores individually this season.
That means, of course, the onus on the outcome of the third meeting between the two programs in the last five years could very well come down to the respective run defenses. Statistically, that would slightly favor the Orange as they are 26th (138.3 ypg) compared to 52nd (154 ypg) for the Gophers.
Minnesota ended the 2013 season on a two-game losing streak, although those losses came against then-No. 19 Wisconsin and Big Ten champ Michigan State in East Lansing. Prior to that, the Gophers had won four straight after their head coach, Jerry Kill, was knocked from the sidelines and, ultimately, into the coaches’ box as he continued his long-running battle with epilepsy.
Syracuse is bowling for the third time in four seasons — its best stretch since the late nineties — in its first season under head coach Scott Shafer. Shafer is the first Orange coach since Paul Pasqualoni in 1991 to lead the Orange to a bowl game in his rookie season with the program.
PREDICTION: Minnesota 27, Syracuse 17