Week 12 – Syracuse at Missouri

Posted Nov 14, 2012

Week 12 Fearless Prediction – Syracuse at Missouri

Syracuse (5-5) at Missouri (5-5) Nov. 17, 7:00, ESPNU

Here's The Deal: Syracuse and Mizzou haven't met in a quarter-century, yet are unlikely twins this season; both are 5-5, eager to become bowl eligible and coming off crucial upset wins in Week 11.

The Orange dealt Louisville its first loss of the season, and has now won three of the last four games. It was an especially seminal moment for the Syracuse seniors in their final home game at the Carrier Dome, as well as head coach Doug Marrone. Marrone's job security has been the subject of much debate, but he's safe if he can guide the program to a second postseason game in the last three years.

Missouri, without any warning, located its offense in Knoxville, besting Tennessee in four overtimes, 51-48. The Tigers took out a season's worth of frustration on the Vols defense, amassing 454 yards and six touchdowns. While this debut campaign in the SEC is going down as a disappointment no matter the finish, the offseason will be a lot more bearable if it starts in January instead of December.

Why Syracuse Might Win: This is the Orange's best offense under Marrone, a balanced attack led by a veteran quarterback.

Over the past month, the team is averaging 35 points a game, employing a run-pass mix that's caused problems for opposing defenses. It used to be that everything fell on the shoulders of QB Ryan Nassib, who's done a nice job of teaming up with receivers Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales. However, Syracuse reached a new plateau once RB Jerome Smith took flight. The junior has rushed more than 100 yards in four straight games, taking full advantage of the daylight being provided by LT Justin Pugh and the rest of the O-line.

Why Missouri Might Win: Mizzou is battle-tested by an SEC schedule, and is coming off its high point of 2012.

The Tigers have a little extra bounce in their step after winning a crucial road game, and finally locating the offense's pulse. Defensively, this is the most talented team that Syracuse has seen in a long time. Last week at Neyland Stadium was a bit of an anomaly for unit that leads the country in forced fumbles, and features all-star caliber players at each level. The Orange will have a particularly tough time containing a front seven spearheaded by DT Sheldon Richardson, ends Michael Sam and Brad Madison, and linebackers Andrew Wilson and Will Ebner.

What To Watch Out For: It's been a painful year, both literally and figuratively, for Missouri QB James Franklin. He's hoping last week's four-touchdown effort will serve as an ignition to a strong finish.

Like his program, Franklin hasn't lived up to expectations in his first year in the SEC. However, he has two—maybe three—chances to capture a tailwind for his senior season. He's similar to South Florida QB B.J. Daniels, who the Orange faced on Oct. 27. Both are stocky and athletic dual-threats, with a knack for erratic behavior in the passing game. The Bulls produced three touchdowns in the Carrier Dome, with Daniels rushing for 134 yards, throwing for 183 more and accounting for one of the scores.

What Will Happen: Who wants that bonus game more?

This game will be as much about motivation as at is about matchups. Not only does Missouri have the luxury of playing in Columbia, but it has also peaked ahead at the schedule. A trip to Texas A&M is up next, so this team knows it better become bowl eligible on Saturday. There's not much difference between these two squads, though the Tigers do have a higher ceiling on defense. They'll slow down the Orange, which is just 1-4 when playing outdoors this season. Mizzou also has the advantage of having flexed its muscles against Georgia, Arizona State, South Carolina, UCF, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee this season.

CFN Prediction: Missouri 28 … Syracuse 21
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Missouri -4 O/U: 51
Must Watch Rating (5 – Killing Them Softly, 1 – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2): 2.5