Syracuse vs. Missouri: Talkin' Tigers With Rock M Nation

Ed Zurga

I don't know about most Syracuse Orange fans but I don't know a whole lot about the Missouri Tigers. So I turn to Rock M Nation commander in chief, Bill Connelly, to fill us in on what to expect.

I don't know about most Syracuse Orange fans but I don't know a whole lot about the Missouri Tigers. Hell, I don't know a whole lot about Missouri or tigers in general. So I turn to Rock M Nation commander in chief, Bill Connelly. Bill is not only our Missouri blogger but he's also a college football writer for SBNation.com.

Bill answered my burning questions about what Syracuse fans should expect on and off the field on Saturday.

At 5-5 and Texas A&M looming in two weeks, I'm guessing you guys are pretty intent on beating us, huh?

Short answer: yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup.

Long answer: Since James Franklin got hurt and Mizzou lost to Vandy, the Tigers fell behind schedule in working toward a bowl. They needed a November road win to get back on track ... and they got it. Losing to Syracuse after that would be a huge kick in the gut.

How would you sum up your first SEC season and experience so far?

In one sentence: It probably isn't a good idea to injure all of your offensive linemen (like, seriously, almost literally all of them) and your starting quarterback while entering the best defensive conference in the country.

Syracuse fans are looking at Missouri's 5-5 record and an offense that's ranked 106th in the nation and talking themselves into winning this game. Are we crazy?

Syracuse's defense is very aggressive, and against what is still a patchwork offensive line, that could be cause for success. That said, Mizzou did gain more yards against Florida than anybody not named Tennessee two weeks ago, and the offense did look awfully good against Tennessee in the second half and overtime last week. Mizzou's one offensive problem (aside from crippling injuries) has been receiver drops, and those have all but vanished in the last two weeks. If the passing game is no longer terrible, then Mizzou's offense is much, much better than its full-season rankings.

Syracuse has had it's issues with mobile quarterbacks who can create on the run. How scared should we be of James Franklin?

The original version of James Franklin, one built like a fullback with solid running ability and a decent arm, would give you fits. The current version of James Franklin, still coming off of a knee injury and running like an old man, is not as scary. That said, he showed last week that he can still stretch pass plays with scrambling, even if he isn't much of a danger to plow forward for yards on the ground.

What kind of atmosphere should visiting SU fans expect in Columbia? Where should they spent their pre- and post-game time?

The atmosphere has been strong all season, but you will probably catch the tamest version of Memorial Stadium this year. It's going to be pretty cold yet again, it hasn't been the most exciting of seasons on the field (though last week's win will probably pull in a couple of extra thousand attendees), dorms close earlier that day (leaving students with an awkward stay-or-go conundrum), and ... it's deer season. Nothing is more frustrating than my annual realization that a couple of thousand Mizzou fans are not in attendance because they felt shooting wildlife was a more appropriate, enjoyable use of their time. It happens every year. So yeah ... if this game were in September, you'd be looking at 65K-70K and a fun crowd. Now, I'll be ecstatic with 64K-65K.

Tailgating at Mizzou is fun if you can find it. The high-donor lots near the stadium fill in slowly, but if you can find the thunderdome that is Lot X (about half a mile northeast of the stadium), you'll have yourself a good time. And they're packed on game days, but if you pop into Shakespeares Pizza or Booches downtown, you'll be taking in a decent chunk of the Columbia Experience.

A prediction for the game and the rest of Missouri's season...

I like Syracuse quite a bit -- I've talked up the Orange a couple of times at SBN. But I think the CURRENT version of Missouri, one with a semi-healthy James Franklin, a more experience (if still ridiculously hobbled) offensive line, a receiving corps that no longer has its collective head up its collective posterior, and a strong defense (which has been a constant all season) should be able to get the Tigers to six wins. I say it's something like 17-17 at halftime, and Mizzou eventually pulls away to win ... um ... we'll say 34-24.

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