Syracuse (5-5) at Missouri (5-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (38,000) -- Columbia, Missouri.
Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Syracuse 4-1, Missouri 3-3. Away Record:
Syracuse 1-3, Missouri 2-2. Neutral Record: Syracuse 0-1, Army 0-0. Conference
Record: Syracuse 2-4, Missouri 2-5. Series Record: Syracuse leads 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Coming off its biggest win of the season, the Syracuse Orange
travel south to take on the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium.
While Texas A&M's win over No. 1 Alabama grabbed the headlines, Syracuse
posted a big upset over an undefeated team as well last weekend. The Orange
dominated the then No. 11 Louisville Cardinals en route to stunning 45-26 win
at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse evened its overall record to 5-5 with the win
which includes a solid 4-2 mark against conference foes.
It took just about everything Missouri had but it managed to pull out its
second SEC win of the season on Saturday with a 51-48 marathon overtime affair
against Tennessee. The win was the first on the road for the Tigers
since a 21-16 win against UCF at the end of September. Missouri is also 5-5
this season overall and just a win away from bowl eligibility in its first
season in the SEC.
This is the first matchup between these two squads since a home-and-home
series during the 1986 and 1987 series. Syracuse won both of those contests.
The normally potent passing attack of Syracuse, took a backseat to the rushing
game in the win over Louisville. The Orange piled up 278 yards and three
touchdowns on the ground in the win, but also showed balance with 246 yards
through the air.
Jerome Smith continued to quietly put together one of the better seasons in
the Big East by a running back. Smith rushed for 144 yards on 18 carries and
scored a touchdown as well. Smith is now the third most productive back in the
conference with 875 yards.
Such a huge win for Syracuse last weekend overshadowed a huge accomplishment
by Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib. After his efforts on Saturday, Nassib now
hold the Big East record for career completions (738). The senior had a solid
game and completed 15-of-23 pass attempts for 246 yard and three touchdowns.
Nassib also passed Donovan McNabb for second on the Syracuse all-time passing
list (8,460). Breaking records like that highlights what has been a
spectacular season from Nassib. He has thrown for a Big East leading 3,019
yards this season while completing 63.4 percent of his passes and tying for
the conference leading with 21 touchdown passes.
No quarterback can succeed without receivers he can rely on and Nassib has
benefited from having plenty in that regard. Chief among those options is Alec
Lemon who leads the Big Eat in receiving yards per game (82.8) and has
accumulated 53 receptions for 745 yards on the year. Lemon finished with 176
yards against Louisville and also had a pair of touchdown receptions. Marcus
Sales (52 receptions, 732 yards, 7 TDs) and Jarrod West (38 receptions, 528
yards) have also been productive this season with each ranking in the top 10
in the Big East in receiving.
What has held Syracuse back this season is its play on the defensive side of
the ball. The Orange are tied for the second worst scoring defense in the Big
East (26.1 ppg) and are ranked sixth in total defense (379.7 ypg). Even in the
win over Louisville the Orange was still torched for 472 yards, 424 of which
came through the air.
In terms of individual efforts, Syracuse has had a number of solid producers
on defense. Shamarko Thomas leas the team with 72 tackles and has also
collected a pair of interceptions and forced three fumbles. Brandon Sharpe
(13.0 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) and Dyshawn Davis (9.0 tackles for loss)
have been menaces to opposing backfields.
Missouri has largely fought to a stand still this season and not just in terms
of its record. Missouri has had a positive scoring differential, but by only
the slightest of margins (+0.2) as the team scores 25.3 points and allows 25.1
points per game. Missouri's scoring average is one of the worst in the SEC
(12th) which is in line with the Tigers' total offensive production (332.8
ypg), ranking 11th.
A nagging knee injury has slowed down dual-threat quarterback James Franklin
this season but he has begun to look back to form in recent weeks. He threw
for 226 yards and four touchdowns against Tennessee last week. Franklin also
added 43 yards on the ground. When healthy Franklin is a real threat in
Missouri's up-tempo offense. Overall this season, Franklin has completed
57.8 percent of his passes, for 1,283 yards and eight touchdowns in eight
games. He has struggled with ball security though with seven interceptions.
Missouri's offense may run at a high rate but there is still a great deal of
balance for the Tigers. Missouri has rushed for 1,353 yards as a team, led by
Kendial Lawrence, who has put up 819 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Lawrence was particularly effective against Tennessee, rushing for 153 yards
and a pair of scores, including a 77-yard scamper on the first play of the
With such turbulence at quarterback this season Missouri has not had an
established pass catcher rise to prominence. Marcus Lucas (39 receptions, 406
yards, 3 TDs) is the primary option but he has only averaged 40.6 yards per
Missouri has held its own in the SEC, a conference known for defense. Although
it does not rank near the top of the conference with squads like Alabama and
LSU, the Tigers have been respectable ranking seventh in total defense thus
far (353.3 ypg). Missouri's success has come due in part to its ability to
create negative plays. The Tigers are tied for second in the conference
currently with 77 tackles for loss.
Sheldon Richardson and Will Ebner have been the two stalwarts for the Missouri
defense. Each has recorded a team-high 70 tackles this season, while Ebner has
a team-leading 10,5 tackles for loss. Richardson has also done his part in
terms of getting in the backfield with 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks.
The postseason is just a win away for Missouri and the Tigers will need to
play with urgency in this game because it could be there best chance to
capture that decisive sixth win since next week the Tigers take on No. 9 Texas
A&M in College Station. Syracuse has the offense to compete, but could suffer
a letdown after its big upset win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 35, Syracuse 30
11/14 10:39:55 ET
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