Minnesota vs Syracuse Odds
Syracuse and Minnesota last played in the 2013 Texas Bowl, and they’ve only played each other five times in program history. The Orange and the Golden Gophers will meet in the Bronx on Thursday to play in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
Syracuse started its season 6-0 and found itself ranked inside the top 15 nationally, but a more difficult schedule in the second half of the season saw the Orange come tumbling back down to earth.
The Orange finished with a victory to get to 7-5 and easily surpassed their preseason win total of 4.5. But now they’re dealing with key losses due to opt-outs on both sides of the ball.
Minnesota will have star running back Mo Ibrahim in the lineup for this game, and that presents a major matchup problem for Syracuse’s run defense. The Gophers had a solid but middling 8-4 season in the Big Ten and squandered chances to win a weak Big Ten West division.
Both of these teams play at a slow pace – hence the low total at 41.5 – but the low-stakes nature of the bowl game environment should lead to more risk-taking, faster pace and more trick plays.
Minnesota enters this game with a clear matchup advantage against the Orange.
The Gophers run the ball at one of the highest rates in the country and feature a big offensive line that is extremely efficient at moving the ball on the ground. The offense ranks top-20 nationally in both Rushing Success Rate and Offensive Line Yards.
Minnesota will face an Orange defense that’s undersized up front, is down some key players and hasn’t been able to stop the run all season. The Orange sit 112th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and 117th in Line Yards on defense.
The line is built more for speed and pass rush than it is to stop the run. Teams that have been able to run the ball successfully — like Notre Dame — have easily moved the ball up and down the field against this defense.
The Orange’s defense has excelled in the red zone this year and held a bunch of teams to three points, but the Gopher running attack success should be more efficient in the red area on Thursday.
Syracuse lost offensive coordinator Robert Anae and defensive coordinator Tony White to other programs, and neither will coach in this game. The Orange are also dealing with opt-outs from multiple key players on both sides of the ball.
Star running back Sean Tucker was as important to the Syracuse offense as any player was to any offense in the country. However, he declared for the NFL Draft, as did tackle Matthew Bergeron.
The Orange’s offense ran through Tucker and the running ability of quarterback Garrett Shrader, but it is very difficult to run the ball on this Minnesota defense.
The Gophers rank 10th nationally in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and 17th in Defensive Line Yards. The Orange don’t have a running back with any real Division I experience behind Tucker.
I’d expect to see a much more pass-heavy approach in this game because of that. Shrader hinted in the press that the Orange are going to try a more pass-heavy plan, and that means he’s more likely to turn the ball over. His decision-making in the pocket has been inconsistent this season. He’s made plenty of big plays through the air, but the turnover bug has bit him at times.
The Gophers get almost no pressure on opposing quarterbacks, however, and Shrader has averaged 9.4 yards per attempt when kept clean this season. His top two receiving options are available here, and he should be able to find success against the Gophers’ secondary.
Given that the new offensive coordinator Jason Beck came with Anae from Virginia, I don’t expect the Orange to have many problems due to the coaching change.
Minnesota vs Syracuse Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Minnesota and Syracuse match up statistically:
Minnesota Offense vs. Syracuse Defense
Syracuse Offense vs. Minnesota Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||28||68|
|Seconds per Play||31.2 (129)||27.8 (99)|
|Rush Rate||67.4% (4)||56.2% (47)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Minnesota vs Syracuse Betting Pick
Syracuse had the 47th-highest rush rate in the country during the regular season, and it’s almost certain going to pass the ball much more in this game. Passing generally leads to more points, and that’s it especially true if the Orange also play faster than they did during the regular season.
Given Tucker’s absence, Cuse will need more wrinkles to find offensive success. That means more passing, more tempo and more possessions.
As much as the Gophers play really slow on offense, the chains will be continuously moving as Minnesota plays ahead of the chains after successful first-down runs.
For example. Notre Dame scored 41 points on this Syracuse defense by primarily running the ball and dominating the line of scrimmage.
The weather also looks improved in New York for this game as the extreme cold from Christmas week dissipates. Temperatures in the mid-40s with low winds and sunny skies should help both good kickers continue to put points on the board.
Shrader will have time in the pocket, and the Orange won’t be able to stop Minnesota’s running game. As a result, this total is too low. I’d play the over at 43 or better.
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