Syracuse will head to Houston to play in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 27. at 6 p.m. against Big 10 opponent Minnesota, the schools announced Sunday evening. The matchup was originally intended to pit an Big 12 team against a Big 10 team, but the Big 12 didn’t have enough bowl eligible teams to fulfill its requirement. The story was originally reported by ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.
“It is great to see an ACC-Big Ten matchup in a terrific bowl game,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said in a release. “I couldn’t be happier for our senior class to have the opportunity to go to Texas and play a Big Ten school. One of the things I have enjoyed the most about this season is our seniors. They are tough kids who never give in. This is a perfect way for them to end their season and their Syracuse career – playing in their final game in an SU uniform in the Texas Bowl.”
The Orange went 6-6 in its first season in the ACC, and secured bowl eligibility with a dramatic 34-31 win over Boston College in the final regular season game. Quaterback Terrel Hunt’s pass to Josh Parris with 6 seconds left gave the Orange the go-ahead score. SU finished 4-4 in conference play, and was one of 11 bowl eligible ACC teams.
Syracuse won the Pinstripe Bowl in the 2012 season over West Virginia and owns a 14-9-1 postseason record. This is Syracuse football’s first back-to-back bowl seasons since the 1998-99 seasons.
The Golden Gophers had bowl eligibility sewn up by the end of October and at one point boasted an 8-2 record, but ended the season with a pair of losses to nationally ranked opponents Wisconsin and Michigan State. The Golden Gophers played in the same bowl game last year, but lost to Texas Tech, 34-31.
Minnesota has some similarities to the Orange, as they boast a strong rushing attack averaging over 200 yards a game, while their pass attack posts a much more modest 142 yards per game. The Gophers’ leading rusher is David Cobb, who has amassed 1,111 yards and seven scores on the ground. They also have two quarterbacks who gained more than 300 yards rushing apiece.
Their defense is also stronger against the run than the pass, just like SU. The Minnesota defense is led by two linemen who reached double figures in tackles for loss. Ra’Shede Hageman topped the team with 11 and Theiren Cockran had 10, including 7.5 sacks. Even with Cockran’s production, the Gophers had only 17 sacks as a team while the Orange collected 33 on the year.
SU has faced Minnesota four times in football and has lost the last three in the series, including twice in recent seasons. The Orange welcomed the Golden Gophers to the Carrier Dome for their season opener in 2009, which was also the first game under head coach Doug Marrone. SU had a 20-14 halftime lead in the game, but eventually fell in overtime, 23-20. Last season, Minnesota hosted the Orange and knocked them off, 17-10. Syracuse turned in a sloppy performance in that game, committing four turnovers and ten penalties in the loss.
The game will be televised on ESPN.
Jim Stechschulte contributed to this report.