It wasn't pretty by any means, but a late touchdown run from quarterback Terrel Hunt gave Syracuse a 21-17 win over Minnesota on Friday night to claim the 2013 Texas Bowl title.
Despite leading by two scores early in the fourth quarter, Syracuse found itself needing to rally in the closing minutes to reclaim the lead. Hunt evaded a handful of Golden Gophers to run into the end zone from 12 yards out to give the Orange a four-point lead with just 1:11 remaining on the clock.
It seemed the Orange had the game in the bag midway through the third quarter. Minnesota's offense hadn't scored a touchdown since Nov. 9, and the Gophers were struggling to get much of anything going. Two touchdowns in about three minutes gave UM the lead, though, and it seemed the Orange had lost all momentum. But the Orange rallied thanks to a 70-yard Brisly Estime punt return, Hunt's score and Minnesota failing to connect on a hail mary try as time ran out.
After an up-and-down season under first-year coach Scott Shafer, it was a fitting way to end the year. The team could've folded after the two quick scores, and it's a testament to Schafer, the coaching staff and the players for battling back the way they did in the final minutes.
Houston-area kids given incredible experience
Nunes Magician, SB Nation's Syracuse blog, raised more than $46,000 over the last few weeks to send more than a thousand kids to the Texas Bowl. The kids had a great time at Reliant Stadium as the Orange rallied late:
Box Score Hero:
Mitch Leidner: 11/22, 205 yards, 2 TD
Terrel Hunt: 19/29, 188 yards; 15 carries, 74 yards, 2 TD
Jerome Smith: 16 carries, 74 yards, 1 TD
Drew Wolitarsky: 4 receptions, 94 yards, 1 TD
Rankings Ramifications: Even with the win, Syracuse won't come anywhere close to the top 25 at the end of the season. It was a nice victory for the Orange and it will certainly give the program some momentum heading into the offseason, but that's about it.
But Did They Cover? Minnesota opened as a 4.5-point favorite, though the line shifted a point or two on most sites by kickoff. The Gophers obviously failed to cover. The two teams came in below the opening over/under line of 47.5 points.
For More On This Game: For more on Gophers football, visit Minnesota community The Daily Gopher, plus Big Ten community Off Tackle Empire. For more on Cuse football, visit Syracuse community Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician.