In any given football play, 22 players line up. But so often, a game is decided by 1-on-1 matchups. Syracuse beat Missouri this evening, 31-27, because they found a matchup they liked, and Mizzou couldn't do anything to stop it. Lining Alec Lemon up in the slot opposite Randy Ponder, the Orange scored 21 points in the fourth quarter. For the game, Lemon caught 12 passes for 244 yards, an outstanding performance, and with solid quarterback play, Syracuse was ready for whatever adjustment Missouri made. Soft zone? Ryan Nassib just switched to quick, short passes to the outside. Switch up your coverage on Lemon's side? Run easy, two-man routes to the other side and probably find Marcus Sales open in the process (eight catches, 85 yards). It would have been beautiful to watch had Mizzou not been involved. And with no Sheldon Richardson (hope it was worth it, Shel), Mizzou's defensive line could not get anywhere near enough push to pressure Nassib into bad throws.
Of course, it wasn't all Lemon-versus-Ponder. Mizzou's offensive output dried up after the first 25 minutes. With the smallest, quickest defense Mizzou had seen since UCF, Syracuse was constantly able to pierce Mizzou's offensive line and force losses on first down. Kip Edwards dropped a sure interception in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter (Syracuse scored on the next play). James Franklin suffered a head injury. Et cetera. But kudos to Syracuse for finding a matchup Mizzou could not counter and riding it to victory.
So that's that then. Mizzou has one last chance to salvage bowl eligibility next week in College Station, but the best, clearest route to six wins has been impeded, and the odds are very good that Mizzou will spending the holidays at home for the first time since 2004. It happens to everybody occasionally, and it has happened to Mizzou this year. Get healthy, get mad, and make adjustments for next year. And if you can, find a couple of extra cornerbacks to throw out on the field to counter bad matchups.
And again, if you want to just rant and scream about firing everybody, go to the rant thread.