|Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib needs seven passing yards on Saturday to break Marvin Graves' school record for passing yards in a career. Nassib has had a stellar senior season. (US Presswire).|
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, (ESPN U)
Spread: Missouri by 4.5
Watchability: Medium. There could be offensive fireworks Saturday night in Columbia in a game featuring two teams which combined to score 96 points last week. Both teams need one more win in their final two games to become bowl eligible. There might be more urgency for the Tigers, than the Orange to come away with a win. Missouri faces No. 8 Texas A&M in its regular season finale, while Syracuse travels to Philadelphia to take on Temple.
Shining stars: Syracuse -- QB Ryan Nassib . With a spectacular season, Nassib has arguably bolstered his draft stock more than any player in the Big East. The senior quarterback has already set the school record for passing yards in a season (3,019) and needs just seven more this week to pass Marvin Graves for the most in a career (8,466). An offense spearheaded by Nassib is on pace to set school records for total yards (5,638), yards per game (469.8), completions (289), passing yards per game (301.9) and passing TDs (25). Nassib could pick apart a secondary that allowed 432 yards in last week's win over Tennessee. Missouri -- WR Dorial Green-Beckham. The Orange have faced a number of dynamic, future NFL wideouts this season. The list includes: USC WRs Marquise Lee and Robert Woods, USF WR Andre Davis and Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman. All four might have a lower ceiling than Green-Beckham, the nation's No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2012. While Green-Beckham had only two catches against the Vols, both came on critical late touchdowns. Missouri trailed by seven in the final minute of regulation when Green-Beckham spotted a safety playing too close to the line and easily defeated the coverage on a 10-yard touchdown with 47 seconds left. The freshman wideout tight-roped the left sidelines like a seasoned pro while running the fade route. Green-Beckham only has three touchdowns this season.
Who could steal the show: Syracuse -- WR Alec Lemon. The Orange senior receiver earned Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors on Monday after his nine-catch, 176-yard, two-touchdown performance. Lemon has overcome nagging injuries earlier in the season to emerge as one of the top playmakers in the conference. The Tigers will have to be physical with Lemon in the slot to prevent him from gaining separation on inside-breaking routes. Missouri -- RB Kendial Lawrence. The senior running back provided the Tigers with a spark last week on an electrifying 77-yard for a touchdown to open the second half. Missouri went to the locker room down 21-7 after being outgained 383-64 in the first 30 minutes. Lawrence changed the momentum when he took a handoff to the right, made a quick cut to the left and found daylight down the left sidelines. The diminutive back finished with 153 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers are 4-0 in 2012 when Lawrence rushes for at least 100 yards.
You going? Ranking the road trip: The rare late, non-conference game could provide a fun trip for the Orange faithful. The last time the programs met, Syracuse receivers coach Rob Moore still wore an Orange uniform. On October 3, 1987, Moore caught a go-ahead 71-yard touchdown in the 24-13 victory. Moore went onto to a 10-year NFL career, where he earned two trips to the Pro Bowl.
Magic number for Syracuse: 211. The Orange are averaging 211 rushing yards per game in their five wins, including a season-high 278 against Louisville last week. In five losses, Syracuse has been held to 124.8 rushing yards per contest. RBs Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley are coming off strong efforts against the Cardinals.
Magic number for Missouri: 34. In four losses this season to teams currently in the top 10, Missouri has averaged only 11.75 points per game. In six other games, the Tigers have averaged 34.3 points per contest. Missouri will need all the points it can muster against Syracuse.
The game comes down to: Which defense can step up. While each team possesses an explosive offense, both are inconsistent on defense. In a game that's expected to be close, the team which makes a critical, late stop might prevail.
Prediction: Syracuse 34, Missouri 30.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Big East, follow bloggers Evan Hilbert and Matt Rybaltowski @CBSBigEast.