The Gophers are doing their part to spark some Texas Bowl Fever.

An athletic department spokesman on Thursday said the team is approaching 3,000 tickets sold for the Dec. 27 game against Syracuse at Reliant Stadium in Houston and that the school is ahead of last year's pace. Minnesota played in the same bowl a year ago — then called the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas — and announced 3,163 tickets had been sold through the school.

That's impressive considering a year ago Minnesota was playing in its first bowl since 2009, which made it a bigger deal. And last year the Gophers were playing in a better bowl than they would have found themselves in under normal circumstances, thanks to the postseason ineligibility of Ohio State and Penn State.

Texas Bowl Fever, however, doesn't appear to be sweeping the nation. Minnesota (8-4) and Syracuse (6-6) are a long way from Texas, as opposed to last year's opponent (Texas Tech). These numbers don't lie:

• 30 cents: That was the price of a ticket to the Texas Bowl on as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday. The lowest price fluctuated during the day, but it was always less than a dollar every time we checked. The download fee ($4.95) was decidedly more expensive. That was a ticket for a seat in the nosebleeds, but a ticket in a good spot on the lower level could be had for less than $10. And there were more than 6,000 tickets available on the site — perhaps not surprising since when the matchup was announced, said the bowl already had sold more than 42,000 tickets "through renewals, Bowl Backer packages, pre-sales and team allotments."

• 44: Sean Keeley runs a Syracuse fan blog and took a poll to see how many die-hards were planning on going to the bowl game. Out of 459 Syracuse fans who responded, only 44 said they were going. On the bright side, Keeley used that as inspiration to create a fundraiser to send underprivileged kids in Houston to the game — wearing free Syracuse T-shirts to represent the Orange. Minnesota is similarly offering a chance for fans to purchase and donate $25 tickets through Friday.

Michael Rand