1. Establish the Run
In every game Minnesota has won this season, the Gophers have rushed for over 175 yards. Every lose, they have had under 140 rushing yards. The workhorse back all year has been tailback David Cobb, who had 1,111 yards on 219 carries. He averaged 5 yards per carry and also had 7 rushing touchdowns on the season. The offensive line has been dinged up and done some reshuffling due to injuries, but has really done a good job opening up holes and winning the battle in the trenches. If Minnesota can get the running game going against Syracuse, then that should open up the play action and hopefully create some big plays to happen down the field. Most importantly is that it will take pressure off Gopher quarterback Philip Nelson. He has struggled this year with Minnesota ranking last in the Big Ten in passing yards per game this year by only throwing for 141 yards per game, but he has managed the offense quite well and has not made the big mistake.
2. Make Syracuse One Dimensional
Syracuse signal caller Terrel Hunt has led this offense this season and finished with 1,450 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He is more known for hurting opposing defenses using his arms by rushing for 426 yards on 91 carries. The Orange like to run the ball with the ACC's fourth best rushing offense led by running back Jerome Smith, who had 840 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. The Gophers will try to stop the run and that will mean Gopher stud defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman will have to play big and be very disruptive like he has shown he can be over the past few years. The Gophers will try to make the Orange and Hunt to beat them through the air by taking away their running attack and if that happens, then that could mean trouble for Syracuse.
3. Win The Turnover BattleMinnesota has not hurt themselves this season by turning the ball over and are plus three in that department on the year. They have been looking to create turnovers on defense all year and will try to do the same against Syracuse. If the Gophers can win the turnover battle, then that could possibly give them good field position and will allow the Gophers to chew up more clock in the game.