posted on November 16, 2012 11:06
Missouri looks for its sixth win, but has to play a Syracuse team riding high after a dominating victory over Louisville. Before Saturday's kick-off, we're breaking down how the Tigers and Orange matchup.
Missouri's passing offense vs. Syracuse's passing defense
Last week, for the first time all season, the Tigers' passing game showed up -- and it showed up in a big way. It took a while, but James Franklin found his mojo and completed seven of his final eight passes for 111 yards and four touchdowns. That's a passer rating of 369.05 over his final eight throws. All total, he completed 19 of 32 attempts for 226 yards, four scores and one pick. His finish to the game, however, is what's most promising, as those throws weren't always to wide-open receivers (DGB's tying TD not withstanding). Syracuse surrenders 230 yards per game through the air, but opponents complete percent of their throws and have thrown 18 touchdowns to just six interceptions. The Orange's opposing passer rating of 138 would rank tenth in the SEC, just ahead of not-so-stout Tennessee. Syracuse also has registered just one sack in the past three games. Franklin should have plenty of time to throw to open receivers on Saturday, and he could have a big game for the entire four quarters.
Missouri's rushing offense vs. Syracuse's rushing defense
Syracuse surrenders 149 yards per game on the ground, but it's been a Jekyll-and-Hyde season for the Orange's rushing defense. They've had four games where opponents failed to run for over 100 yards, and they've had four games where opponents ran for over 200. Missouri's rushing attack isn't as potent as those of Cincinnati or South Florida, who combined for over 600 yards on the ground, but the Tigers' ground game has come on stronger lately because of Kendial Lawrence's increased workload. Cincinnati and South Florida also have dual-threat quarterbacks, and James Franklin is reportedly as healthy as he's been all season. That should help Missouri move the ball on the ground, as well.
Syracuse's passing offense vs. Missouri's passing defense
Ryan Nassib has quietly put together a good year, and he averages 301 yards per game through the air. However, as of late he's become less prolific in yardage, averaging 277 yards per game over his last four. He threw for over 320 in four of Syracuse's first six games. However, he's become more efficient, and hasn't thrown a pick over those previous four games. A big factor for Missouri is getting pressure on Nassib, as the Tigers have one sack in the last two games and now have to play without Sheldon Richardson. Nassib will get his yards, but Missouri needs to play like it did in the second half, instead of the first half, against Tennessee.
Syracuse's rushing offense vs. Missouri's rushing defense
Syracuse averages 168 yards per game on the ground, but has been outstanding lately. It's low total over the last four weeks was 192, and its gone over 250 twice. Richardson's absence will be felt most in this area, as he was one of Missouri's leading tacklers for a reason. However, the Tigers still have a strong run defense, and only two players (both for Alabama) have gone over 100 yards in a game. But, without Richardson, this is still a push.
Missouri's special teams vs. Syracuse's special teams
Syracuse has struggled with field goals, as Ross Krautman has converted 11 of his 19 attempts. Andrew Baggett has been very good lately, with his lone miss coming on a block against Florida (that wasn't his fault. As always, Missouri's return game is the X-factor. Syracuse has allowed one kickoff return for a touchdown, and Jimmie Hunt's score against Tennessee shows that the best way to stop Missouri's returners is to kick the ball through the endzone. But, with Baggett's ascension, Trey Barrow's steady play and Missouri's returners, the Tigers get a big edge here.
EDGE: Missouri (significant)
Richardson's loss is a big blow, but it shouldn't be the deciding factor against a middle-of-the-road Big East team. Missouri's offense has plenty of confidence and is playing at home, at night. There should be a lot of momentum there. Missouri will come out firing for the first time on offense and will put together a complete game, winning this one 34-21.