The Minnesota Golden Gophers defense forced four turnovers and held the Syracuse Orange offense to just 228 passing yards Saturday en route to a 17-10 victory at TCF Stadium. The victory helped the Gophers improve their record to 4-0, while Syracuse dropped to 1-3.
Running back Donnell Kirkwood rushed 28 times for 99 yards and two touchdowns for the Gophers, who were outgained by the Syracuse offense in total yards, 350 to 337.
Kirkwood scored touchdowns in the first and fourth quarter, while quarterback Max Shortell managed the game well, completing 16 of 30 passes for 231 yards with no interceptions.
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib had his worst performance of the season, completing 21 of 31 passes for 228 yards, two interceptions and one fumble. All night, Nassib was hurried by the Minnesota defensive line, which collected three sacks.
The Orange's lone touchdown came with :46 remaining in the game, and an attempt for a late-game comeback was spoiled when SU couldn't recover their onside kick.
A two-yard first-quarter touchdown rush by running back Donnell Kirkwood has helped the Minnesota Golden Gophers earn a slim 7-3 halftime lead over the Syracuse Orange at TCF Stadium. Kirkwood's score came during the Gophers' second possession of the game and ended a five-play, 58-yard drive that gave Minnesota an early 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Orange answered with a 33-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Ross Krautman. The kick polished off a 13-play, 67-yard march that ended with about two minutes to go in the first quarter.
No team scored in the second quarter but both had opportunities. Minnesota kicker Jordan Wettstein has missed two field goals, a 44-yarder that came on Gophers' first drive of the game while the another was a 26-yard attempt in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, SU's senior quarterback Ryan Nassib has turned the ball over twice. Nassib threw an interception on the game's opening play and then fumbled the ball in the second quarter when the Orange were inside Gopher territory.
Saturday's Week 4 contest between the visiting Syracuse Orange against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium (8 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network) will feature the Orange (1-2) entering as a 3-point favorite according to Bovada.com. This is the first time this season the Orange will be favored against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
Syracuse (1-2) are coming off a 28-17 victory over the Stony Brook Seawolves, a Football Championship Subdivision program, that snapped a seven-game losing streak by the Orange, which all the way back to last season. Meanwhile, the Gophers (3-0) defeated Western Michigan, 28-23, last week.
Minnesota enters the match up looking for its third straight victory over the Orange, who last lost to the Gophers in their 2009 season opener, 23-20. The Orange are looking for their first road victory over a Big Ten opponent since '06 when they beat Illinois, 31-21.
The key to a victory for the Orange will be continuing is offensive success and limiting the big plays on defense. So far this season, Syracuse has moved the ball extremely well up-and-down the field and that should continue.
However, being in a hostile environment will be a new test for SU which has played all its games in friendly confines -- the contest against USC was listed as a "home game".
Overall, I believe the Orange offense scores enough points and their defense and special teams limits the big plays.
On the SU depth chart Reddish (5'11, 186 pounds) is still listed as a starter, but if he can't play then the Orange will need to rely on junior Keon Lyn and freshmen Julian Whigham and Wayne Morgan to make up for the loss of SU's most athletic defensive back.
Other injury related news revolved around senior left tackle Justin Pugh, an All-Big East First Team selection last season, who will miss Saturday's game but will make his return Friday, Oct. 5, against the Pittsburgh Panthers, said Marrone.
Pugh (6'5, 298) had offseason shoulder surgery and has missed SU's first three games of the season. Junior Sean Hickey (6'5, 285) has been playing well in his place, and is expected to shift to right tackle when Pugh returns.
Also out against the Gophers will be junior punter returner Steve Rene and junior wide receiver Adrian Flemming. Rene missed SU's season-opener but has returned punts in the last two games, while Flemming has yet to play this season. Flemming is slated to make his return against Pitt.
Meanwhile, CuseNation.com is reporting freshman tight end Ron Thompson will miss the entire 2012-13 season due to an injury that will require surgery. Thompson (6'4, 256) has yet to play for the Orange this season.
Another topic Marrone addressed during his media session, was why defensive end John Raymon (6'5, 316) was denied NCAA eligibility earlier this week.
HCDM on NCAA ruling "I don't agree, nor do I understand it... John is devastated...(He) has done nothing wrong." Courageous through process.