The Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-4) come into the Texas Bowl having covered six straight to close out the regular season. The Syracuse Orange (6-6) sneaked into this one after becoming bowl eligible in their final game of the season.
But they have covered four of their last five trips to a bowl.
Point spread: Golden Gophers opened as 4.5-point favorites; the total was 45.5. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 26.4-19.6 Golden Gophers
Why Minnesota can cover the Texas Bowl spread
This team no longer scores points with reckless abandon, frenetically moving up and down the field. The Golden Gophers play with much more confidence and believe in their product. Their offense was scoring more than 30 points per game at one point this season and, though the average has dipped, they will be well-prepared for this bowl game.
The stop unit will provide enough chances to keep the Gophers' offense on the field, providing ample opportunities. They can turn to the rushing game to control the tempo and keep the Orange off the field while draining time off the clock.
The Texas Bowl betting history shows that underdogs have covered just two spreads in 12 tries.
Why Syracuse can cover the spread
The Orange have been impressive with their stop unit, led by Jay Bromley, their fierce pass-rusher who has recorded nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss this season. Syracuse finished the regular season tied for 19th nationally in tackles for loss and will look to turn up the pressure on Minnesota's backfield.
If Bromley has his way on the defensive front, causing the Gophers to make mistakes, crafty playmaker Durell Eskridge, who nabbed four interceptions this past season, will be waiting in the wings for any errant passes. Impressively, Syracuse hasn't given up one 100-yard rusher this season. And they have a knack at bowl time, going 4-1 ATS lately.
Minnesota is the play in this game. Syracuse was a much better team in 2012, and Minnesota beat the Orange 17-10 last season in Minneapolis. The Gophers showed how competitive they can be when they performed respectably in a hard-fought 14-3 loss to Michigan State in the regular-season finale. Like the 'Cuse, Michigan State hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher until it met Minnesota's David Cobb, who finished with 101 yards against the nation's No. 1 defense.
Favorites are on an 8-2-2 ATS streak in the Texas Bowl. And, for you total lovers, the under is on a 5-1 run in the Texas Bowl.
- Favorites are 8-2-2 ATS past 12 Texas Bowls
- UNDER is 5-1 past six Texas Bowl games
- Minnesota covered six straight spreads to end 2013 season
- Syracuse is 4-1 ATS past five bowl games