COLUMBIA — Last Saturday was a big day for the Missouri and Syracuse football teams.
The Tigers won their first-ever SEC road game with a wild 51-48 win against Tennessee in four overtimes. The Orange upset then-No. 9 Louisville, which had been undefeated coming into the game.
The wins improved both teams' records to 5-5, putting them both one win away from becoming eligible to play in a bowl game. One of the teams will get that elusive sixth win when the two teams play against each other Saturday in Columbia.
If the Tigers don't prevail Saturday, getting a sixth win is very unlikely. The Tigers' last game of the season is against Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. In case you haven't heard, the Aggies upset then-No. 1 Alabama last weekend, becoming the first team to beat the Crimson Tide in more than a year.
Missouri fans do have reason for optimism, though, after the way the Tigers offense played in the second half and overtime Saturday. Freshman Dorial Green-Beckham showed why he was one of the most sought-after recruits in the country last year with two big touchdowns. The first tied the game with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter and the second gave Missouri the lead in the third overtime.
Cool weather, Tigers defense present challenges for Orange
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone is making sure that the weather doesn't negatively impact his team's play Saturday. The Orange, which plays its home games in a domed stadium, has been practicing outside this week to prepare for the cool temperatures expected in Columbia.
Nolan Weidner of The Post-Standard in Syracuse suggests that Marrone should also be focusing on avoiding fumbles and converting third downs.
Missouri has recovered more fumbles this season than any other team in the country (16), and Syracuse has fumbled 18 times this season. The Orange has also had trouble converting third downs, which doesn't bode well against a Missouri defense that has stopped teams on more than 70 percent of third downs.
Even if Syracuse loses Saturday, it doesn't face a very daunting opponent in its last game of the season. The Orange plays Temple (3-6) on Nov. 23.
Alabama still controls destiny in SEC West
The SEC East division was decided for good on Saturday when Georgia beat Auburn. The Bulldogs will face the winner of the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1.
Alabama, despite the loss to Texas A&M, can clinch the SEC West with a win against Auburn on Nov. 24. Auburn is in last place in the SEC West with a 0-7 conference record.
Supervising editor is Frank Russell.