We outlined after the Gopher football team's bowl announcement yesterday how their game with Syracuse Dec. 27 is a something-has-to-give matchup.
The Orange haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher the entire season, and as any maroon and gold fan knows, the Gophers only means of effective offense comes on the ground, as they ranked 34th in the nation in rushing this year averaging over 200 yards per game.
How can we be so confident that Minnesota will look to run the ball and avoid the pass at all costs? They ranked 116th of 125 FBS teams through the air this year. Not so good.
While we know how good the Gopher ground game can be, just how good is Syracuse run defense? One Heisman finalist might have the answer.
Boston College running back Andre Williams, who led the nation in rushing this year, was announced as one of six Heisman Trophy finalists today along with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Florida State's Jameis Winston, Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch, Alabama's A.J. McCarron, and Auburn running back Tre Mason.
Williams put up an absurd 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Golden Eagles, and 926 yards in the final four games of the season for BC.
The last of those games came against Syracuse, who beat Boston College 34-31 to become bowl eligible and head to the Houston to face the Gophers on a positive note.
One of the keys to the Orange coming out victorious? Shutting down Williams.
Syracuse held the nation's leading rusher to just 29 yards in the first half before Williams had to exit the contest with a shoulder injury on his first carry of the third-quarter.
Williams would not return and is questionable for BC's bowl game against Arizona, though head coach Steve Addazio said he will play in the Golden Eagles postseason matchup with the Wildcats.
Perhaps even more impressive than shutting down Williams is the Orange list of opponents, which include No. 1 Florida State and No. 12 Clemson.
Despite being blown out by the two powerhouses, Syracuse D would not give up over more than 80 yards rushing to any one player.
Add the tough run D of Syracuse to Minnesota's offensive struggles late in the season against tough competition, and Minnesota fans can't love the ground game's outlook going to Houston.