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SU, Missouri each on brink of bowl goal


SYRACUSE — There was a sense of finality to the Syracuse University football team’s big win over Louisville last Saturday.

It was the final Carrier Dome performance for 15 Orange seniors, and the last Big East home game for the program.

But the work is far from over this season for the Orange.

Syracuse (5-5 overall, 4-2 conference) still needs a win to become bowl eligible with two road games to play, starting with today’s 7 p.m. nonconference matchup at Missouri (5-5, 2-5). The game will be televised on ESPNU.

“I was proud about how we can play when we don’t make mistakes that have hurt us throughout the year, and when we can execute at a high level,” Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said of the Louisville victory. “And now it’s a challenge to keep that going, and the schedule doesn’t get easier.”

Missouri, the first Southeastern Conference opponent of Marrone’s four-year tenure, has won a school-record 18 straight nonconference games at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo. Four of its five losses this season have come to teams ranked nationally in the top 12.

Entering today’s game, Missouri is in a similar position to Syracuse.

The Tigers are coming off a thrilling victory of their own, a wild 51-48 win over Tennessee that went to four overtimes. They trailed 21-7 at halftime and 28-14 midway through the third quarter before rallying back.

They are also in need of a win in their final two games to be eligible for a bowl invite.

“It’s a very, very important game for us, as it is for Syracuse,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said.

For Syracuse, the biggest challenge is to avoid the letdown after a major win, something it was unable to do a season ago.

Prior to the Orange’s win over Louisville, its last win over a ranked opponent came over West Virginia on Oct. 21 of last year in the Dome, also putting Syracuse one win away from bowl eligibility.

But the Orange went on a five-game losing streak to end the year, never getting to that bowl game.

“This year’s team is different, as every year’s team is different. And I think that, for our players, we’ve been striving to make less mistakes and execute better,” Marrone said.

“How you prepared last week, what you did, whatever it may be. How do we mirror that so we can have the same type of performance that we had a week ago as far as making less mistakes and executing? I think it starts from there,” he added.

All of the intangibles that worked in Syracuse’s favor last Saturday will be working against it tonight.

It is Missouri’s senior day and its final home game of the season, giving the Tigers that added emotional edge that the Orange benefitted from a week ago.

“Our fans will grab ahold of that,” Pinkel said. “Senior day here is very special. It’s a big deal in our program.”

n Quarterback Ryan Nassib will likely become Syracuse’s all-time leader in passing yards today, as he is just six yards shy of tying Marvin Graves. He is also 22 yards behind Rutgers’ alum Ryan Hart for fifth all-time in the Big East.

He is one touchdown shy of tying the school’s single-season record for passing touchdowns, a mark he already shares after throwing 22 last year. Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson share that record with Nassib.

Nassib could move into third on the Big East’s all-time career passing touchdowns list. His 65 passing scores has him tied for fourth with former Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm, just one behind former Pittsburgh signal caller Tyler Palko.

n On Thursday, Marrone said that Ashton Broyld is still hampered by a lower-body injury suffered in the second half of last Saturday’s victory over Louisville. Marrone said that the freshman running back would be available “in an emergency situation, at best.”

Marrone also said that defensive lineman Jay Bromley and wide receiver Marcus Sales are less than 100 percent, but both are expected to play tonight.

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