Texas Bowl preview: Syracuse vs. Minnesota
Syracuse (6-6, 4-4 ACC) vs. Minnesota (8-4, 4-4 Big Ten)
December 27, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Syracuse Players to Watch:
Durell Eskridge, FS—There’s not too many times where Eskridge won’t have his say on a play. The sophomore has compiled 78 tackles (4.0 TFL), four interceptions and a forced fumble this season.
Jay Bromley, DT—The anchor on a strong defensive line, Bromley comes in with 37 tackles (11.5 TFL), eight sacks and three forced fumbles. As you can see, 31.1 percent of his tackles are behind the line of scrimmage.
Minnesota Players to Watch:
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT—One of the most athletic, jaw-dropping specimens on any football field is 6-foot-6, 320-pound Hageman. A converted tight end (which shows his versatility), he’s projected to be the first defensive tackle taken in May’s NFL draft.
David Cobb, RB—Cobb is a very capable running back that will lower his shoulder and get the job done. He's averaging 26.7 touches and 5.9 yards per carry over his last six games.
Syracuse Key to Victory:
Pound the rock and rely on the defense. Syracuse owns the No. 102 pass offense, while Minnesota is even further down the list at No. 116. Neither team has had success throwing the ball this season, and neither will try to in the bowl game. The Orange’s biggest strength is its running game, which also happens to be the Minnesota’s. Big stops on defense and a couple of chuck-yards from the backs could make the difference.
Minnesota Key to Victory:
Covert on third down. Minnesota ranks 53rd in third down percentage (41.8) and Syracuse is the 11th-best at stopping it (32.2). If the Gophers can win this battle and win the time of possession, they will win.
Line: Minnesota (-4)
Prediction: Who can run the ball more effectively? The answer will decide the game. Minnesota has a stronger defensive line with Hageman and Theiren Cockran along the front, and the Gophers are 7-1 against teams with seven wins or less.
Minnesota 23, Syracuse 13
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