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How does Syracuse take down Minnesota in the Pinstripe Bowl?

Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Syracuse is officially headed back to Yankee Stadium for the Pinstripe Bowl.

The Orange will meet up with Minnesota in NYC on December 29 at 2 p.m. We know what to expect from SU, a team which has been decimated by injury and floundered against tougher competition. After an hot 5-0 start, the Orange lost five of their last six, and the win against Boston College didn’t exactly inspire much confidence. So how does Dino Babers’ team stack up with PJ Fleck’s? Let’s find out.

Offense

Tanner Morgan should be the Golden Gophers’ quarterback. He’s a sixth-year senior, and he’s spent a lot of time in a lot of cold weather against a lot of good defenses. However, he missed the last two games of the season with an upper body injury. His backup, Athan Kaliakmanis, hasn’t led the offense to the end zone a ton. Minnesota scored 33 combined points in its last two games, a loss to Iowa and a win over Wisconsin. But it’s the Big Ten, and you don’t need to do a whole lot of scoring to be successful. Kaliakmanis threw for 319 yards last week and two scores.

Weathering the Storm | College GameDay
Minnesota at Wisconsin | Extended Highlights | Big Ten Football | Nov. 26, 2022

The Gophers’ best receiver, Chris Autman-Bell, went down with a season-ending knee injury against Colorado, and the targets have been spread around the Minnesota wideout corps ever since. The main strength of the offense is the run, where Mohamad Ibrahim averages over five yards per carry and almost 150(!) yards per game. Both the sixth-year senior and redshirt junior Trey Potts will have plenty of opportunities to gash a porous ‘Cuse front.

Defense

Minnesota’s scoring defense is second best in the Big Ten. It helps that the Big Ten West isn’t exactly plumb with offense, but 13.3 points per game is a very nice number. The strength of the Golden Gophers’ D is the secondary, which allows 173 passing yards per game, second best in the conference. Safety Tyler Nubin leads the team with four picks. Along with Jordan Howard, the pair is one of the best safety tandems the Orange have faced. The Gophers’ pass rush isn’t much to write home about. No Minnesota player has over 3.5 sacks.

Gopher Football Top Defensive Plays vs. Michigan State (Sept. 24, 2022)

Coaching

PJ Fleck was widely regarded as one of the hot names in coaching six years ago when he won a MAC title with Western Michigan. He’s brought his schemes and “row the boat” catchphrase to Minneapolis, where he won B10 coach of the year in 2019. He’s 3-0 in bowl games, and is extremely heady, willing to gamble for momentum’s sake throughout the court of a contest. Those attributes could play a difference in cold weather, tough conditions and a big-stakes matchup.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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