The wait is over.
The Orange learned Sunday evening it’s headed to bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1998 and 1999. Syracuse will take on Minnesota December 27th in the Texas Bowl at Reliant Stadium with hopes of continuing to build the program back to college football prominence.
Scott Shafer and the rest of the coaching staff led SU to a 6 – 6 mark in the team’s inaugural seasons as a member of the ACC.The Fizz did all its homework to calculate the possibilities as to where Syracuse would end up in the postseason. With speculation of playing an average school in a non-BCS conference and potentially missing a bowl game altogether, Shafer is thrilled for the chance to battle the Golden Gophers, especially for his veterans. Per SU Athletics:
“It is great to see an ACC-Big Ten matchup in a terrific bowl game. 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 last time SU went bowling in the Lone Star State was way back in 1960, when the program won its first national championship. Shafer is spot on when he says it’s a great opportunity for the Orange. Athletic director Darryl Gross is just as excited:
“We are thrilled and honored to be selected for the Texas Bowl. This reward for Coach Shafer, his staff and the hard-working student-athletes was earned through desire and dedication in the building of our football program. We look forward to the great experience that awaits all in the Syracuse family in Houston.”
Seems the entire football program is in unison when it comments on this year’s bowl selection. We dive inside the Fizz Five to explain why the Texas Bowl ensures a bright future for Syracuse football.
All-access recruiting in state of Texas
The Orange has just one player on its current roster from the Lone Star State. Fifth-year transfer Drew Allen didn’t pan out so well. The point is SU can showcase itself to a football state that produces top-tier talent year in and year out. Recall last year when Syracuse grabbed just its second commit from Texas in six years, thanks to Zach Allen. We know the TCU quarterback flipped his commitment to eventually sign and join the Horned Frogs. SU has had limited access to the talent. Hopefully a bowl appearance draws local high school players who can recognize the Orange is no longer a laughingstock. Although most fans that can make it to the game will probably have affiliations with the Orange, recruits enjoy heading to any type of college game. In the Texas Bowl’s seven-year tenure, it’s never had less than 50,000 in attendance.
SU-Minn won’t be overshadowed by other bowls
There are only two other bowl games going on December 27th. The Orange and Golden Gophers feature the day’s second matchup, which is sandwiched between the early game, the Military Bowl, and the night cap, the Fight Hunger Bowl. No top-notch, standout BCS teams play on that Friday, as Maryland and Marshall play in Military, while BYU and Washington feature in Fight Hunger. The report of Syracuse playing on New Year’s Day in the Outback Bowl did sound intriguing, but playing on a national holiday could go unnoticed. The timing of the Texas Bowl gives both teams an edge. Just three games going on and SU is slotted for a 6 p.m. EST start. Not too shabby.
ESPN, Friday night primetime
Working off the timing element of the bowl, Syracuse is once again exposed to national television. It’s a pitch players of last year’s recruiting class were pumped about. The Orange faced ACC powerhouses this season in no. 12 Clemson and no. 1 Florida State on ESPN networks. The ACC’s dominance overall helps big-time this year, with 11 squads going bowling. Even though Syracuse isn’t one of those top teams, it was competitive enough in its new conference to stay relevant and keep top programs in the spotlight.
Re-engage with alumni bases
This game allows Doc Gross to get his wish of traveling and for the program to reconnect with alumni. The Texas Bowl allows program coordinators to work with alumni to make the bowl a great success. Although Gross is all about branding SU as New York’s College Team, you have to credit him for being excited about traveling outside of the Northeast. The Orange has the opportunity to showcase its talent and poise in front of a solid alumni base.
Minnesota is a marquee opponent
The 8 – 4 Golden Gophers are no joke in 2013. The Big 10 program operates similarly to the Orange. It’s committed to gritty defense and a solid running game. Junior RB and Texas native David Cobb rushed for over 1,000 yards on just above five yards per carry. QB Philip Nelson was solid with 1,200 yards passing and nine passing TDs. Shafer would much rather have his battle-tested defense go up against a worthy Big 10 school as opposed to middling, non-BCS schools. Rumored teams SU could have seen in other bowls include Bowling Green (Little Cesar’s Bowl), North Texas, Florida Atlantic (Beef O’Brady’s Bowl), and Western Kentucky. Syracuse looks for revenge on Minnesota, as it dropped to the Gophers in horrid fashion in 2012. The hoops squad did the job to beat Minnesota in the Maui Invitational, too. The guys on the gridiron, especially the seniors, would love to knock of the Gophers in response to last season.
Shafer’s work has been nothing short of impressive in SU’s first year in the highly-competitive ACC, which again features the top-ranked team in the country, two BCS Bowl-bound squads and 11 total bowl-eligible teams. The Texas Bowl has a lot on its plate for Syracuse to succeed. The task is to simply capitalize on these opportunities.
Posted by: Brendan Glasheen