Texas Bowl College Football Betting Selections: Syracuse Orange vs Minnesota Golden Gophers

2013 Texas Bowl
Syracuse Orange vs Minnesota Golden Gophers
Reliant Stadium – Houston, Texas
Friday, December 27, 2013, 6:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Minnesota -4 1/2
Current Line: Minnesota -4
Opening Total: 47 1/2
Current Total: 47 1/2
Opening Money Line: Minnesota -185 / Syracuse +160
Current Money Line: Minnesota -185 / Syracuse +160 

Syracuse is a 4 point underdog to Minnesota in Friday's Texas Bowl in Houston.
Syracuse is a 4 point underdog to Minnesota in Friday’s Texas Bowl in Houston.

The 8-4 Minnesota Golden Gophers face the 6-6 Syracuse Orange in the 2013 Texas Bowl Friday night. Minnesota leads the series 3-1 against Syracuse and has won 3 straight games in the series. The Golden Gophers beat Syracuse 17-10 last season in Minneapolis. This will be the third meeting between Minnesota and Syracuse since 2009.

Syracuse went 4-4 in the ACC Atlantic Division after many years in the Big East. The Orange are 14-9-1 all-time in bowl games. Syracuse is going to a bowl for the third time in four seasons. The Orange won the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in 2010 against Kansas State and last season against West Virginia  36-14. Syracuse hasn’t played in a bowl game in Texas since the 1960 Cotton Bowl. Syracuse has only faced one Big Ten team in a bowl game when they beat Ohio State 24-17 in the 1992 Hall-of-Fame Bowl.

Minnesota went 4-4 in the Big Ten Legends Division. It was the first time the Golden Gophers won at least 8 games in a season since the 2003 team went 10-3. Minnesota is 5-10 all-time in bowl games. The Gophers have lost 5 straight bowl games including the 2012 Texas Bowl against Texas Tech 34-31. The last time Minnesota won a bowl game was the 2004 Music City Bowl against Alabama. The Golden Gophers are 1-3 all-time against current ACC teams in bowl games.

Syracuse is coached by Scott Shafer. The Orange have losses to Penn State in East Rutherford, New Jersey, plus home losses to Clemson 49-14, and Pittsburgh 17-16, along with road losses at Northwestern 48-27, Georgia Tech 56-0, and Florida State 59-3. Syracuse has home wins over Wagner 54-0, Tulane 52-17, Wake Forest 13-0, and Boston College 34-31, along with road wins at NC State 24-10, and Maryland 20-3. The Orange are 7-5 ATS and the total is 6-6. In their last game, Syracuse was a 2.5 point underdog against Boston College and the total was 51.5. The Orange had to win that game to be bowl eligible.

Syracuse is being outscored 26-23 this season. Syracuse is #100 in scoring nationally out of 125 FBS teams. The Orange are averaging 375.2 total yards per game including 181 passing and 194.2 rushing yards. Syracuse is #88 in total offense, #105 in passing and #39 in rushing. On defense Syracuse is allowing 368.6 yards per game, including 230.2 passing and 138.4 rushing yards per game. The Orange are #38 in total defense and #27 against the rush. Syracuse is +2 in turnovers with 23 takeaways. The Orange average 63 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 31. Syracuse is 81/210 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 62/189. The Orange have forced 33 sacks and have allowed 17 this season. Syracuse is 34/42 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdowns, and opponents are 33/39 with 24 touchdowns.

Syracuse has used two quarterbacks this season.  Terrel Hunt has completed 60.7% of his passes for 1,450 yards with 10 touchdown passes and 8 interceptions, along with 91 carries for 426 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. Drew Allen has completed 55.7% of his passes for 666 yards with 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Hunt takes most of the snaps, and Allen hasn’t played in the last 2 games.

Running back Jerome Smith has 184 carries, 840 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 7 catches 56 yards and a touchdown. Prince Tyson-Gulley has 79 carries, 440 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 14 catches 51 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with an ankle injury. George Morris II has 71 carries for 301 yards and a touchdown, plus 2 catches. Devante MacFarlane has 47 carries for 295 yards and a touchdown, along with 4 catches.

Receiver Ashton Broyld has 48 catches for 411 yards. Jarrod West has 11 catches, 359 yards and a touchdown, and also threw a touchdown pass. He is probable with a chest injury. Christopher Clark has 33 catches, 329 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Jeremiah Kobena has 16 catches for 206 yards. Clay Cleveland has only 6 catches but 2 of them went for touchdowns. Receivers Macauley Hill and Adrian Flemming and tight end Beckett Wales are all out for the season. Five defensive players are listed as questionable or out.

Minnesota Coach Jerry Kill was sent to the hospital twice this season with epileptic seizures. He took a leave of absence and missed several games to undergo treatment. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys served as the interim coach in Kill’s absence. When Kill returned he coached from the press box. It is unclear whether he will coach the bowl game from the sideline or in the press box.

Minnesota has home wins over UNLV 51-23, Western Illinois 29-12, San Jose State 43-24, Nebraska 34-23, and Penn State 24-10, along with road wins at New Mexico State 44-21, Northwestern 20-17, and Indiana 42-39. The Golden Gophers have road losses  at Michigan 42-13, and Michigan State 14-3 to close out the regular season, along with home losses to Iowa 23-7 and Wisconsin 20-7. The Golden Gophers had an outside shot at the Legends Division title but they lost their last two games of the season to Wisconsin and Michigan State to end those hopes. Minnesota is 9-3 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season. The Gophers were 17 point underdogs at Michigan State and the total was 42.

Minnesota is outscoring teams 26-22 this season. Minnesota is #80 in scoring and #27 in points allowed nationally.  The Golden Gophers are averaging 342.8 yards per game on offense, including 141.8 passing and 200.9 rushing yards. The rushing attack is #34 in the country, but the Gophers are #118 out of 125 teams in passing. The Golden Gophers are #107 in total offense. Minnesota is allowing 371.3 total yards per game, including 217.3 passing yards and 154 rushing yards. The Gophers are #52 or better in all three categories. Minnesota is +3 in turnovers with 18 takeaways. Minnesota is averaging 34 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 27. The Gophers are 82/184 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 69/180. Minnesota has forced 17 sacks and allowed 23. The Gophers are 32/36 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns, and opponents are 34/46 with 23 touchdowns. Minnesota has 8 defensive/special teams touchdowns and has allowed one pick six.

Minnesota quarterback Phillip Nelson has completed 51.4% of his passes for 1,288 yards with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 91 carries, 350 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is questionable for undisclosed reasons.  Back-up Mitch Leidner has thrown for 414 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and has 89 carries for 383 yards and 7 touchdowns. Leidner started a couple of games earlier in the season.

Running back David Cobb has 219 carries for 1,111 yards with 7 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 162 yards. Rodrick Williams, Jr. has 60 carries, 332 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. He is out for the season. Donnell Kirkwood has 48 carries for 114 yards, plus 3 catches. Running back Berkley Edwards and fullback Mike Henry are both out for the season.

Receiver Derrick Engel has 21 catches, 405 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Maxx Williams has 20 catches for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Drew Goodger has 7 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with a knee injury. Drew Wolitarsky, Donovan Jones and Isaac Fruechte will get more targets with out Engel. DEfensive back Marcus Jones has both a kick and a punt return for touchdowns. Three defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

Syracuse is 4-0 ATS in neutral site games, 7-1 in non-conference games, 3-1-1 in Friday games, and 11-5 overall.

Minnesota is 6-0 ATS overall, on grass, and after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 5-0 after a cover, 4-0 after passing for less than 170 yards, 7-1 in non-conference games, 4-1 in Friday games, 5-2 after a straight up loss, and after accumulating less than 275 total yards. For what it’s worth, the home team has covered all 4 games in this series. Minnesota is the designated home team against Syracuse in the Texas Bowl.

Both of these teams struggle to score and have injuries to key skill position players. I think this will be a very low scoring game. I like Syracuse to pull off the mild upset especially if Nelson doesn’t play for Minnesota.

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