Big Ten bowl season kicks off tonight with the Texas Bowl. The Minnesota Golden Gophers will take on the Syracuse Orange in what should be one of the more exciting games so far during the bowl season.
Let’s see how some of our writers see it shaking out; including what player could have the biggest impact on the game.
Jerry Kill’s Gophers do not back down from a fight and are coming off their best regular season in quite some time. To me, it seems like Syracuse flopped in their biggest games this season. They didn’t even belong in the same building as Clemson, Florida State (though, not many teams actually do) and Georgia Tech, getting housed in all 3 contests. This certainly has the makings of a close game, but it’s Year 3 of the Jerry Kill era and that means we should expect a Gopher victory in a bowl game.
The B1G Difference Maker will be David Cobb. Cobb clearly holds the key to a Minnesota victory. If the Gophers are able to run with success in even 3 of 4 quarters, that should be enough to eke out a W. Syracuse has a top 50 ranked rushing defense, so this won’t be easy. But it should happen.
The Gophers need to cap off their breakout season by beating an over matched Syracuse team in the Texas Bowl. The Orange have already lost to Northwestern and Penn State earlier in the year — two teams the Gophers beat in conference play. Minnesota is the much better team and as long as they don’t trip over themselves getting off the bus, they should handle Syracuse fairly easily.
Minnesota’s defense has been solid and Syracuse has struggled to move the ball, — a recipe for success for the Gophers. Minnesota shouldn’t have to extend themselves too much offensively and the Gopher line continued to make strides as the season progressed. Look for Texas native and Gopher running back David Cobb to be the B1G difference maker and rush for at least 100 yards and 2 TD’s.
I expect this game to be a little closer than most expect. Minnesota is favored and should win, but you never count out Syracuse in bowl season. They always have NFL caliber guys – impact NFL caliber guys – on their roster and come to play every time out. That said, Minnesota is a better team on paper at every position on the field. I expect the Gophers to pull away with this one sometime in the third quarter.
Look for the B1G difference maker to be Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman. It will be interesting to see how Syracuse tries to stop the 6’6, 310 pounder from wreaking havoc in the backfield all day. Frankly I don’t think they have the horses to do it, allowing Hageman to cap off a stellar career with a performance that could send him shooting up NFL draft boards.
PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 27, 2013