The Missouri Tigers (5-5) will play their last non-conference game of the season as they host the Syracuse Orange (5-5) for their home finale.
A matchup between these two teams is a rarity, but Syracuse owns a 2-0 record against Mizzou (according to Gridiron History), making the Tigers the historical underdogs.
Syracuse leads series vs Missouri, 2-0-0 See gridironhistory.com/versus/Missour…— GridironHistory.com (@GridironHistory) November 12, 2012
The Tigers played a dramatic game last weekend against the Tennessee Volunteers, which ended in a 51-48 overtime victory, giving them their second SEC win of the season.
The Tigers appear to be an improved unit after limiting the Florida Gators to only 14 points and beating Tennessee the following week, but with a tough Texas A&M team waiting for them in the finale, it appears that Syracuse is the only beatable team remaining on Missouri's schedule.
But a victory over Syracuse is no simple feat. Not only did the Orange take down undefeated Louisville—formerly the No. 9 ranked team in the nation—last weekend but they won the game with ease after producing a final score of 45-26.
As if the momentum from that victory is not enough, Syracuse is also just one win away from a bowl game appearance, which adds to its motivation.
Syracuse needs 1 more win to become bowl eligible: Coming off their biggest win of the season, coach Doug Marron... binged.it/Twtwci— Syracuse News (@SyracuseNYNews) November 12, 2012
This appears to be an evenly matched game between two teams determined for a strong finish, making this game an entertaining one for us fans.
Where: Faurot Field, Columbia, Missouri
When: Saturday, November 17, 7 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN U, Watch ESPN (Live Stream)
Listen: 194 (XM), 123 (Sirius)
Spread: Missouri -4.5 (Odds Shark)
Unlike Syracuse with its win over Louisville, the Missouri Tigers do not have a similar keystone victory over a premier opponent, which may lead some to believe that Syracuse has the edge.
But then again, did anyone honestly believe Louisville was a legitimate Top 10 team?
Missouri has the same record as Syracuse (5-5) and obtained it against a far more difficult schedule, including games against Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida.
The Tigers have gone up against some of the toughest teams in college football, so they certainly won't be overwhelmed by Syracuse. Combine that with their home-field advantage, and their 4.5-point favoritism makes sense.
Over/Under: 51 (Odds Shark)
Considering Mizzou and Syracuse combined for 96 points last weekend, it makes the over an appealing option.
Missouri has exceeded 30 points three times in its last five games and six times this season, so the Tigers shouldn't have a problem contributing their share of the points.
Meanwhile, Syracuse is averaging a respectable 28.3 points per game this season and has exceeded 35 points three times in the last four games.
With the Orange offense clicking as of late, these two teams will have no problem exceeding 51 points.
Missouri Injury Report (USA Today)
OL Justin Britt (Knee)
OL Jack Meiners (Knee)
WR Wesley Leftwich
Syracuse Injury Report (USA Today)
RB Ashton Broyld (Undisclosed)
Missouri Players to Watch
WR Dorial Green-Beckham
Dorial Green-Beckham—former No. 1 high school recruit in the nation—has been quiet for most of his true freshman season, but he came alive last week against Tennessee with 35 yards and two touchdowns.
Green-Beckham has limitless potential and it will be interesting to see if he can finally show some consistency in these final games.
His playing time should certainly increase after last week's performance.
RB Kendial Lawrence
The Tigers were depending on Kendial Lawrence against a poor Tennessee run defense, and he answered with 153 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Lawrence has been a vital part of the Missouri offense with 819 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the season, so the coaches may decide on making him a more prominent part of the game plan this week.
Syracuse only gave up 48 yards on the ground in its victory over Louisville, but in its loss to Cincinnati the previous week the defense was gashed for 263 rushing yards.
Mizzou must implement a game plan similar to Cincinnati's and run over Syracuse with a well-organized ground game.
Syracuse Players to Watch
QB Ryan Nassib
Ryan Nassib is having a career year for the Orange and is the center of the team's impressive offensive attack.
Nassib has been a very efficient passer with 21 touchdowns and only eight interceptions this season. The third-year starter has also exceeded 225 yards in every game except one and has surpassed the 300-yard mark five times this season.
Nassib's performance will be vital against a Missouri secondary that surrendered 432 yards last weekend.
WR Alec Lemon
Tennessee's Justin Hunter was a handful for the Missouri defense a week ago, which means Syracuse will be relying on one of its receivers to attack the secondary in a similar way.
Hunter—who caught nine passes for 141 yards and a touchdown last weekend—is a sizable target at 6'4" and 200 pounds.
Syracuse doesn't have a monster receiver of that stature, but the 6'2" Alec Lemon is the next best thing and should cause problems for a Missouri defense that struggles against tall receivers.
It will be interesting to see how Lemon will be used in the passing game and how often the quarterback looks his way.
Both teams, regardless of their impressive offensive firepower, have struggled to maintain consistency this season.
Between both teams, Syracuse's two-game win streak against Connecticut and South Florida is the longest—and only—win streak achieved by either team this season.
Syracuse and Missouri have been surprisingly bad at times this season, including Missouri's loss to Vanderbilt and the Orange's loss to Minnesota, but they have also been able to exceed expectations at times.
Syracuse had the victory over a top-10 school in Louisville, but the Tigers have found some rhythm over the last three weeks, including wins over Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as a well-played game against Florida.
Due to Missouri's recent surge and its home-field advantage, expect them to jump ahead early on and maintain a lead for four quarters.