Syracuse and Minnesota will battle in the Texas Bowl on Friday. Two similar teams that play physical football and focus on stopping the run. One of the things that jumps out to offensive coordinator George McDonald on film is how well they execute.
"They play very, very hard," McDonald said. "They're very disciplined. A very rugged team. Coach Kill has done a great job everywhere he's been. I think this is the second time I've faced one of his teams. They're always very, very consistent. A very hard, disciplined team."
In preparing for the Gophers, McDonald has looked at the film from Syracuse's road loss to Minnesota last season.
"It helps because you see, year to year, if there are any adjustments to what they're doing," McDonald said. "A lot of it's the same but there are some things that have changed. Some of the players are playing a lot better than they did last year just because it's another year in the system."
So what does the Orange have to do in order to be successful against a tough Minnesota squad?
"We've just got to execute," McDonald said. "We have to play with tempo. They're a very big and rugged team, prototypical Big Ten team. They have Ra'shede Hageman who we recruited as a tight end when I was at Minnesota, and now he's doing a great job inside (on the defensive line).
"The biggest thing is, we have to be physical at the point of attack. The biggest thing we rely on is that we've played some good defenses that have been good at stopping the run. So we just have to do what we do in terms of executing at the point of attack and the running backs hitting it."
Another challenge of a bowl game is not losing the momentum you had from the regular season. Coach McDonald believes the Orange have managed that pretty well.
"Coach Shafe's done a great job with our schedule," McDonald said. "So we've been practicing almost every day just like it's a game week. We just keep going and keep going. I think the receivers have been stayed in phase and been able to stay in the flow of how things have been going.
"With the schedule, we've given them some time off but not too much time off where you get rusty. Just enough to keep them fresh, so I think we should be pretty good going into the game."