Minnesota outmuscles Syracuse in Pinstripe Bowl

Minnesota outmuscles Syracuse in Pinstripe Bowl

Orange can't overcome being down a dozen players, falling 28-20 to the Golden Gophers at the Yankee Stadium bowl game.
Published: December 29, 2022
Running back Mohamed Ibrahim #24 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers crosses the goal line for a touchdown during the 1st half of the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl against the Syracuse Orange at Yankee Stadium on December 29, 2022 in New York City.
Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim (#24) crosses the goal line for a touchdown during the first half of the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl Thursday against Syracuse.

BRONX, N.Y. — In a game that saw Syracuse missing 12 players due to injury, transfers, or opting out for the NFL draft, the Orange knew the challenge they faced to best a veteran Minnesota team in the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl.

And despite some Orange momentum at times and Minnesota losing its starting quarterback in the second quarter, the Golden Gophers were still able to pick their spots and produce enough on offense to defeat Syracuse 28-20. 

The Golden Gophers started the game in Yankee Stadium strong, jumping to a 14-0 lead with Mohamed Ibrahim scoring the first touchdown for the Gophers. In the second quarter freshman quarterback Athan Kalikmanis was injured, resulting in sixth-year senior Tanner Morgan taking snaps for the remainder of the game.  The Gophers didn’t miss a beat with the backup QB executing a nine-play, 62-yard drive that ended in a Daniel Jackson 20-yard touchdown catch.

The Orange struggled mightily throughout the first half on offense. Garrett Shrader and the offense could not get into a rhythm offensively, going just two for six on third-down attempts. However, on their final drive of the first half, the Orange suddenly put together a five-play 86-yard touchdown drive in just 47 seconds ending in a one-yard Shrader rushing touchdown. Before the score, Sharder threw two passes for 52 yards to Devaughn Cooper, followed by a 29-yard pass to Damien Alford, putting the ball at the 1-yard line.

Interestingly, the Orange only gave LeQuint Allen five first-half rushes for 35 yards producing an impressive seven yards per carry.  In comparison, Minnesota star running back Ibrahim had 16 carries in the first half for 71 yards.  Allen got more runs in the second half finishing the game with 94 yards on 15 attempts.

The New Jersey native spoke to the media after the game about what it would take to become the lead back of the future, after Sean Tucker announced he will be entering the 2023 NFL Draft. 

“Have a hell of an offseason,” Allen said. “Get bigger, faster, stronger, you know, and build along with the team, so we come back stronger.”

Quarterback Garrett Shrader #6 of the Syracuse Orange is tackled by defensive lineman Darnell Jefferies #90 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers of during the 2nd half of the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 29, 2022 in New York City.
SU quarterback Garrett Shrader is tackled by Minnesota defensive lineman Darnell Jefferies during the second half of the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl.

The Orange started the second half with more urgency as Shrader and company put together a 65-yard drive that resulted in a Szmyt field goal. That cut the lead to four; however, that was the closest the Orange would achieve. Shortly after the field goal, Shrader threw a game-changing pick-six by Coleman Bryson, going 70 yards to the house. The onslaught continued towards the end of the third quarter with Morgan continuing his impressive play by finding Daniel Jackson for 25 yards for his second touchdown catch of the game.

Given this Orange defense’s limited number of players, they still came to play the bowl game and gave a valiant effort. For the Orange, the offense struggled to keep up with the Gophers’ high-scoring pace.

Despite the final score, Syracuse remarkably outgained Minnesota in total offensive yards, 484 to 215. Despite the huge advantage in yards, it did not translate on the scoreboard. Although his team lost, head coach Dino Babers had high praise for the play of running back Allen who stepped up in place of the all-American Tucker.

Make no mistake about it though; Babers was not surprised that Allen played so well.

“The way LeQuint played today, we saw him playing like that in August,” Babers said. “We saw him play like that when he was New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year. He has always been that way.”

The Orange had an up and down season this year after starting 6-0 and then finishing 7-6. One thing is for sure is that the team is moving in the right direction, and Babers is confident that there is more winning in store for the team in the near future.

“I think that we’ve got a lot of talent coming back, and we had a lot of talent that was moving on to the pros, which is great,” Babers said. “But with our injury situation and the people that we had injured and with the extra years that they’re getting back with those injuries and if they recover from their injuries, we will have an opportunity to be very good next year.”