Actual belt buckle size may vary.
Syracuse squeaked their way into a Bowl Game with literally six seconds left on their season. They beat Boston College on a well engineered drive, and a timely penalty flag. But the point is they are now in Texas for the Texas Bowl taking on Minnesota.
The Orange seem to have a disadvantage on paper. Minnesota has won eight games this season, including beating then #23 Nebraska, as well as both Northwester and Penn State, two teams Syracuse lost to (although I don't really want to count that Penn State or Northwestern game with Drew Allen blatantly throwing to opposite colored jerseys). They are also one of the best stories in College Football this year, with their coach Jerry Kill coming back from missing games due to seizures related to his epilepsy. They rallied to win eight games and put on some impressive performances. They also have a very solid player in RB David Cobb, who has carried Minnesota on his back in more ways than one. The game, much like the last few tough basketball games, will come down to which individual position performs better for their team. For this game, it is the running back, and to a lesser extent the offensive line. If Jerome Smith and company can create running space, Syracuse will have a very good day, allowing Terrel Hunt to only have to make plays on short third downs, as well as with his legs and not exclusively on longer passes. Similarly, Syracuse has to shut down Cobb. Minnesota has proven that even if they are not being successful by running they will still continue to run the ball way more than they should. Syracuse can force Minnesota into a tough position by simply limiting big plays, and runs of more than a few yards per carry. Their quarterback will make some throws against an admittedly weaker Syracuse secondary, but with the tough defensive rush Syracuse has up front, it will generally force conservative Minnesota to keep trying to run the ball. Syracuse has yet to allow a 100 yard rusher this season in any of their previous 12 games. Although Boston College's Andre Williams may have broken that mark, he was hurt in the first half, so Syracuse can still brag. Either way, I think it will be up to Minnesota to prove they can run against Syracuse's higher ranked defense than Syracuse proving they can stop the Minnesota run. If Hunt manages the ball well and doesn't throw any picks or fumbles it should put Syracuse in a position to prove most of the pickers out there wrong. Frankly I'm not worried. I don't think anyone gave Syracuse a chance last season versus West Virginia in NYC. We know how that worked out. I'll take my Orange, who haven't lost a Bowl Game in the post-Robinson era yet. I'll say Orange over the Gophers 27 to 21.
This game is available nationally on ESPN and Watch ESPN tonight at 6:00pm eastern and 5:00pm local time. Neither John or I made the trip down to Texas, but we'll be rooting for Syracuse to earn their second win in two trips to the state of Texas for a Bowl. The last trip was the 1960 Cotton Bowl, where Syracuse earned the National Championship. That worked out. Hopefully this will too. Either way, a win is icing on an pretty good first season in the ACC for the Orange. A loss, well we made a Bowl Game, and no one thought Syracuse was doing that this season. Except both John and I predicted a Bowl Game. So I guess that shows we know Syracuse better than most of the media. Which may or may not be true, but probably. Enjoy the game and, as always, GO ORANGE!