This has been another hallmark season for Minnesota, who are moderate favorites on the NCAAF Texas Bowl game line, and will look to finish off what’s been an emotional season against Syracuse. The 8-4 SU and 9-3 ATS Gophers were once again a betting darling in college football, and ended the year on a terrific 4-2 SU and 6-0 ATS run that was inspired by the unfortunate circumstances of their own head coach.
Jerry Kill battled episodes of epilepsy and had to leave the team for a short time during the year. The team rallied around him as the year went on and managed to claim just their third winning season in nine campaigns. Ironically, you have to go back that many years to find Minnesota’s last bowl game victory. They’re 0-5 SU in post season games since they won the 2004 Music City Bowl against Alabama.
What makes the Gophers an effective team is also the major reason they’re favored on the Texas Bowl game line. Their rampant rushing game was powered by David Cobb, who totaled 1,111 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. The Gophers piled up 200.9 yards per game on the ground and will face a defense that has had trouble containing tailbacks all season. The Orange surrendered 138.4 rushing yards per game.
Syracuse isn’t a slouch but they’ve also ended the year on a low note, which has to worry anyone that’s willing to wager on their underdog number on the Texas Bowl game line. The Orange dropped two of their last three games, going 1-2 SU and ATS, and barely beat Boston College which has one of the easiest defenses to score on of any name school. Their strength, like their opponent, is their rushing game.
But Minnesota faced strong rushing teams all year, which is a by-product of playing in the Big Ten. They allowed just 154.0 yards rushing and were able to to toe-to-toe with the fearsome offensive lines and tailbacks of their conference. And when it comes to the caliber of a running game, you can’t even pretend like the ACC holds a candle to the Big Ten. At least in this particular department.
It’s hard to call Minnesota’s 8-4 season a banner year, but by their standards it has been one. This is a team that plays like a family, and though they lost to Michigan State 3-14, they managed to keep the high ranked Spartans in check offensively. They’ll have a much easier time dealing with Syracuse with a better rush defense and a much more reliable running game comparatively.