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TIGERS GET ONE LAST SHOT IN 2012    The swan song for the 2012 regular season is set for this Saturday in College Station, Texas, where the Missouri Tigers (5-6 overall, 2-5 in Southeastern Conference play) will take on the high-flying 9th/10th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (9-2, 5-2).  Kickoff between the former Big 12 conference mates at Kyle Field is set for 6:10 p.m. central Saturday, with the game being televised on ESPN2.    Mizzou will get one last chance to attain bowl eligibility, and keep alive hopes of extending its bowl season streak to eight.  Those hopes were put on hold last Saturday in Columbia, as the Tigers dropped their home finale to Syracuse, 31-27.  Mizzou got out to a 17-3 versus Syracuse, only to see the Orange storm back with 21 4th-quarter points to claim the win.  The Tigers hung tight, despite losing starting QB James Franklin (head injury) in the 4th quarter, and took leads of 24-17 and 27-24 under the guidance of backup QB Corbin Berkstresser, but the Orange passing attack proved too hard to hold.  Syracuse threw for 385 yards on the night, including a 17-yard TD pass with just :20 seconds left for the win.    Texas A&M comes into Saturday’s matchup riding a 4-game winning streak, which includes impressive wins at Auburn (63-21), at #15 Mississippi State (38-13) and at #1 Alabama (29-24), as the Aggies handed the Crimson Tide their only loss to date.  A&M downed Sam Houston State in a tune-up game last Saturday by a 47-28 count.  Both of A&M’s losses have come at home in 2012, with both coming against ranked foes – #24 Florida and #6 LSU.

MIZZOU STUNG BY LATE SYRACUSE RALLY      The Mizzou Tigers had things rolling early last Saturday against Syracuse, in a game featuring teams with identical 5-5 records.  Mizzou held a 17-3 in the 2nd quarter, but the Orange scored 21 4th-quarter points, and took their first and only lead of the game on a 17-yard TD pass with just :20 seconds left to claim a 31-27 win and crush Mizzou’s hopes for a celebration on its Senior Night.      Knowing a win would make them bowl eligible, the Tigers came out on fire, scoring TDs on their first two possessions, on TD passes by QB James Franklin of 70 yards and 30 yards, respectively, to freshman WR Dorial Green-Beckham and sophomore WR Jimmie Hunt.  The lead was extended to 17-3 midway through the 2nd quarter, but the Orange hung around with a late TD before halftime to make it 17-10.      After a scoreless third quarter, Syracuse started their onslaught with a 13-yard TD pass with 14:14 to play to tie the game at 17-apiece.  The Tigers appeared poised to answer that score with one of their own, and reached the Orange 22-yardline, but MU was stuffed on 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-1 run tries, and forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal attempt, which was no good.      The Tiger defense bowed its backs and forced a 3-and-out, and MU’s offense, now run by backup QB Corbin Berkstresser, who subbed for Franklin, (woozy from a hit in the head on the previous 3rd-and-1 keeper).  Berkstresser calmly led a 6-play, 79-yard drive which ended with TB Kendial Lawrence’s 3-yard TD run to give MU a 24-17 lead with 7:07 to play.      But Syracuse wouldn’t stand down, and responded with a 7-play, 75-yard drive which took only 1:34 off the clock, and suddenly it was tied again, at 24-24 with 5:33 remaining.  Mizzou’s next drive stalled, but the Tigers got a turnover, when CB Randy Ponder picked off a deflected pass on the MU 39-yardline and returned it to midfield.  Lawrence ran twice for 16 yards and Berkstresser hit WR Marcus Lucas for 9 yards to get it to a 3rd-and-1 at the Syracuse 25-yardline with around two minutes left, but once again the Tigers couldn’t get the push they needed, and Lawrence was thrown for a loss on the 3rd-and-short rush attempt.  That forced a 46-yard field goal, which PK Andrew Baggett nailed with 1:52 to play to give MU what would be its last lead, at 27-24.      On Syracuse’s ensuing possession, armed with only one timeout, the Orange needed only two plays to reach the MU 36-yardline.  Three straight incompletions set up a 4th-and-10 there, and needing only one more stop, the Tiger defense was hit for a 19-yard gain to the Tiger 17.  On the next play, Orange QB Ryan Nassib hit a wide-open Alec Lemon for the back-breaking TD with just :20 seconds left, and the game ended with Syracuse the victors, 31-27.

 

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