The Gophers (8-4) have drawn a very winnable bowl game facing the Syracuse Orange (6-6) in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 27.
Winnable may be an understatement because The Orange struggled against Big 10 opponents this season losing to both Penn State and Northwestern. Both are teams that Minnesota defeated.
Syracuse got destroyed in Northwestern 48-27 back in September, which leads me to believe that they have issues playing The Big 10 style of football which is aggressive and defense based.
The Gophers fared reasonably well in the Big Ten this season, competing in most of their games, but struggled in the last few games against two of the Big 10′s best teams Wisconsin and Michigan State, failing to score an offensive touchdown.
But those teams are the best-of-the-best in the nation and Syracuse is simply not up to that standard. The Gophers are more battle tested than Syracuse and that should give them the advantage in this one.
Last year, the Gophers beat Syracuse 17-10 in the regular season, but Syracuse wasn’t at its best then, making an impressive season run to an (8-5) record.
Syracuse had an emotional last second victory to become bowl eligible against Boston College, so these guys hearts will be ready to play, but I feel that the Gophers rushing game will be too much to handle.
David Cobb and the Gophers were impressive against Rose Bowl Bound Michigan State becoming only the second team on the season to rush for over 100-yards on one of the nation’s best defenses.
Now, Syracuse has a good rush defense, but the Gophers don’t rely on just their running backs to gain yards on the ground. Quarterbacks Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner were among the leading rushers for quarterbacks in the Big 10 this season.
The scariest thing about the Gophers offense is that it’s unpredictable at times, and the running game has been effective against every opponent this season.
The Gophers are playing in a better bowl then they were last year. I’m looking forward to this game and expecting the Gophers to win in Houston, TX.