In an appropriate ending to its up-and-down 2022 season, Syracuse football (7-6, 4-4 ACC) saw a day’s worth of mistakes, a week’s worth of draft declarations, and a season’s worth of injuries add up to deny it a Pinstripe Bowl victory. Instead, Minnesota (9-4, 5-4 Big 10) played to its strengths and made just enough plays to stave off the Orange 28-20.
On an afternoon where SU never led, a slow start from the ‘Cuse offense against a bruising Golden Gopher defense set the tone. The Orange didn’t score in the first quarter and gained just 99 total yards on their first four drives. In the meantime, Minnesota built a 14-0 lead behind a 4-yard rushing score from running back Mohamed Ibrahim and an acrobatic back-corner snag from wideout Daniel Jackson over the head of SU safety Jason Simmons.
However, the game’s momentum shifted in the second quarter. After an injury knocked out starting quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis and brought in former starter Tanner Morgan, the Golden Gopher offense started quickly but fizzled late in the first half. SU pounced on its chance and orchestrated a 5-play, 86-yard touchdown drive that took just 47 of the half’s final 55 seconds, capped by Garrett Shrader’s first rushing score of the day. At halftime, Minnesota led 14-7.
On their opening drive of the second half, an Andre Szmyt 40-yard field goal brought the Orange to within four points. Unfortunately, Syracuse wouldn’t draw any closer. Midway through the third quarter, a 2nd and 2 Shrader pass intended for Oronde Gadsden II was intercepted by Minnesota freshman defensive back Coleman Bryson, who returned it 70 yards for a back-breaking score. The Golden Gophers led 21-10 and from then on contained SU’s threats. A second Shrader rushing touchdown brought the Orange to within 28-20 with 2:29 left in the game, but the Golden Gophers chewed clock and took advantage of a 3rd down, game-sealing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on SU safety Alijah Clark to finish off a victory.
On the day, Shrader completed 32 of 51 passes for 330 yards, was intercepted once, and ran for two scores. The junior’s 51 attempts set a Syracuse career-high against Minnesota’s third-best FBS scoring defense. The Orange offense also benefited thanks to an unexpected source – freshman running back LeQuint Allen, who carried 15 times for 94 yards and caught a team-leading 11 passes for 60 more. Redshirt-senior wideout Devaughn Cooper and tight end Oronde Gadsden both tied for a team-high seven receptions.
Despite its containment of Minnesota single-season rushing record holder Mohamed Ibrahim (16 carries, 71 yards, TD) and edge in total yardage (477 to 215), Syracuse lost two turnovers, drew six penalties, and badly missed several starting contributors. Regular season starters in linebacker Mikel Jones, running back Sean Tucker, and left tackle Matthew Bergeron all declared for the NFL Draft prior to the bowl, while other pieces like safety Ja’Had Carter and cornerback Duce Chestnut chose to transfer after the regular season ended. The Orange had also previously lost starters in Stefon Thompson, Garrett Williams, and Chris Elmore to season-ending injuries.
The defeat is not only SU’s first-ever Pinstripe Bowl loss in three appearances but marks Syracuse’s first bowl loss since 2004 and snaps a program four-game bowl winning streak. Syracuse’s 7-6 record is its best since the 2018 season when it finished 10-3 and won the Camping World Bowl.
SU football opens its 2023 season on September 2nd against Colgate. The Fizz’s Syracuse men’s basketball coverage continues on Saturday when SU takes on Boston College inside the JMA Wireless Dome at 2 PM.