For just the second time in eight seasons Saturday the Syracuse Orange become bowl eligible, as they rallied and defeated the Missouri Tigers, 31-27, in a non-conference football game at Faurot Field. The victory helped the Orange (6-5, 4-2 Big East Conference) reach the six-win mark, while the host Tigers (5-6, 2-5 SEC) need to beat the No. 9-ranked Texas A&M Aggies in the final game of the regular season to achieve the same feat.
Senior quarterback Ryan Nassib, who's now the Orange's all-time passing leader (8,845 yards), found senior wide receiver Alec Lemon for a 17-yard game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in the game to help take a 31-27 lead.
Missouri's last-chance Hail Mary fell short, and Syracuse earned its staple win under fourth-year head coach Doug Marrone.
The Orange trailed 17-10 at halftime, but rallied behind a solid performance from their defense and a career night from Lemon, who finished with 12 catches, 244 receiving yards (a collegiate best) and two touchdowns.
Nassib targeted Lemon six times on SU's game-winning drive, which moved 71 yards in just eight plays - Nassib and Lemon combined for 64 yards.
After giving up touchdowns on Missouri's first two possessions of the game, the Orange defense allowed just one touchdown and a field goal, all coming in the fourth quarter, which featured a total of 27 points (three touchdowns and two field goals).
Missouri junior quarterback James Franklin finished 18-for-24 for 317 yards and two touchdowns, but was knocked out of the game earlier in the fourth quarter. Backup Corbin Berkstresser led the Tigers to a fourth-quarter touchdown drive, however, failed to help Missouri score on its final two possessions.
Syracuse was able to overcome a late interception by Nassib, who finished the game 26-for-40 with 385 yards and two touchdowns, after holding Missouri to just a 46-yard field goal by kicker Andrew Baggett with 1:52 to go.
SU took over trailing 27-24 and marched down the field for the game-winning score.
Overall, the Orange totaled 508 yards and improved to 6-0 when committing the same or fewer turnovers than their opponent.
Next Friday, Syracuse finished regular-season play at the Temple Owls (11 a.m. ET). The Tigers play the Aggies on Saturday (7 p.m.).