MINNEAPOLIS This isnt how the Syracuse University football team wanted to enter its bye week.
The Orange committed two fatal turnovers in the third quarter, and its up-tempo offense was held without a touchdown until the final minute in a 17-10 loss to Minnesota on Saturday night at a sold-out TCF Bank Stadium.
We came into a pretty hostile environment, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said. I thought at times we got shaken up early on with it.
Max Shortell threw for 231 yards in place of injured starter MarQueis Gray as Minnesota improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
The Orange (1-3) is idle this Saturday and will open Big East play against Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse turned the ball over twice within Minnesotas 25-yard line as it tried to rally from a 14-3 deficit in the third quarter.
On a 3rd-and-goal from the 3-yard line midway through the period, Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib took a hard hit as he tried to throw the ball and it fluttered into the hands of Minnesota defender Aaron Hill.
Then with two minutes left in the quarter, freshman Ashton Broyld fumbled on the Minnesota 23-yard line.
Syracuse turned the ball over four times in all, and allowed five sacks. It allowed just three sacks in its first three games combined.
The Syracuse offense was held to 350 yards, well below its average of 533 per game.
When we made a mistake on the offensive side, the defense just rose to the occasion, Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said.
Nassib, who was second in the nation with 379.7 yards per game coming in, finished with 228 yards. His streak of 300-yard games ended at three.
Syracuse senior receiver Marcus Sales, who entered the game ranked No. 8 in the nation with 8.3 receptions per game, didnt catch a pass until there were 58 seconds left in the game. His school-record streak of 100-yard games was snapped at four.
Minnesotas defense set the tone from the very first play, when Cedric Thompson made an acrobatic, diving interception on a poorly thrown pass from Nassib that bounced off of Jarrod Wests shoulder pads.
Donnell Kirkwood rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns for Minnesota. Kirkwoods 1-yard plunge capped a 12-play drive to give Minnesota a 14-3 lead early in the third quarter.
Syracuse came right back with a 15-play drive that was aided by a roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Hill. On third-and-goal from the Minnesota 4, Brock Vereen came free on a safety blitz and hit Nassib just as he was throwing. The ball popped up in the air and Hill corralled the interception to turn the Orange away.
Sales caught a 14-yard touchdown from Nassib to bring the Orange to within a touchdown with 46 seconds to play, but it failed on an onside kick attempt and the Golden Gophers ran out the clock.
At the end of the day, you cant have four turnovers, Marrone said. When you do those things, its very difficult to win a game. Pretty unbelievable to have four turnovers.
One bright spot for Syracuse was senior receiver Alec Lemon setting the school record for career receptions.
He had seven catches on the day to put him at 143 for his career. He caught a 14-yard pass from Nassib in the second quarter to pass Shelby Hill and Scott Schwedes (139) for first all-time.
When Syracuse wasnt committing penalties or turning the ball over, it was short-circuiting promising drives with curious play calls, including a draw on third and 10 from midfield that gained only five yards in the second quarter.