1. The Orange play a solid first half:Minnesota has outscored their opponents 58-20 in the first half this season. In the second half, the Golden Gophers have only outscored their opponents 27-23. Granted this includes a blowout win over an FCS team, but regardless Syracuse can’t afford to come out of the gates slow in this one or they could find themselves in a big hole by halftime. In all three games this season, the Orange offense was sluggish in the first half, and Syracuse can ill afford that in this game against the Gophers. If Syrcuse can come out of the gates strong, I believe they will be able to contain the Gophers in the second half and protect a lead should they get one.
2. Contain A.J. Barker in the secondary: Barker has averaged over 20 yards a catch this season, including a touchdown of over 50 yards. If the Orange can stop Barker, they will have taken away the primary target of the Gophers, and with pocket passer Max Shortell starting this game rather than scrambler MarQueis Gray, that could be absolutely huge in deciding the outcome of the game. Barker is the deep threat and playmaker in the return game, so to keep him in check both in the passing game and in the kicking game is absolutely critical, especially given the state of the Syracuse special teams.
3. The weather is nice: Yeah, I went there. The forecast is supposed to be gorgeous in Minneapolis this Saturday, which will help the Orange tremendously. Nassib will have prime conditions to sling the ball all over the field, so look for him to make a lot of plays this weekend and continue to put up big numbers with his deep receiving core.
Tune is tomorrow for three key reasons why Syracuse would lose to Minnesota