Coach Gary Pinkel says junior quarterback James Franklin is as healthy as he’s been all season. After tossing four touchdowns down the stretch in Missouri’s come-from-behind quadruple overtime victory against Tennessee last week, Franklin’s confidence — something the signal caller has labeled as an issue throughout the season — should be at a season-high as well. Receiver Dorial Green-Beckham seemed to finally break through in Knoxville. Facing the nation’s 88th ranked defense in terms of pass efficiency should allow the passing game to continue its revival.
Syracuse comes to the Midwest confidently, having wrecked previously unbeaten Louisville 45-26 last week. Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib has thrown for 1,111 yards to go along with 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the team’s past four games. Missouri, meanwhile, surrendered 404 passing yards last week en route to giving up 585 total yards. Offensively, Syracuse has eclipsed the 500-yard mark a program-high five times this season. Receivers Alec Lemon, Marcus Sales and Jarrod West make a formidable trio of pass catchers.
Players to watch
In the days prior to the Tennessee game, Gaines — a first-team All-Big 12 selection last season — spoke of his excitement to face a pass-happy opponent. The junior cornerback got his wish but was not his usual ball-hawking self as Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter hauled in nine passes for 141 yards. Syracuse also touts a dangerous passing game, and Missouri will be without the suspended Sheldon Richardson along the defensive line, likely putting pressure on the secondary to cover their receivers a tad longer.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 205-pound senior receiver leads Orange pass catchers with 53 grabs and 745 yards. Lemon’s been the go-to receiver as of late, hauling in each of his five touchdowns on the season in Syracuse’s past four games. The senior has eclipsed the century mark in yardage in three of those games. The Tigers' secondary had its hands full last week and will be faced with a tough task again this week.
One team will leave Memorial Stadium Saturday night bowl-eligible. Missouri hasn’t won consecutive games all season. That changes Saturday, behind Franklin’s best performance of the season.
Mizzou 34 | Syracuse 27