ST. LOUIS Missouri will be without its top defensive player when it tries to clinch an eighth consecutive bowl berth Saturday.
Junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has been suspended for the game against Syracuse at Memorial Stadium for violating team rules, as first reported by PowerMizzou.com and KOMU. He reportedly skipped class time, and as a result, he will miss the Tigers' home finale.
Richardson has been a strong presence this season, his second in the program after transferring from College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif. He is tied with senior linebacker Will Ebner for a team-high 70 tackles. Richardson also has four sacks for 26 yards and two fumble recoveries, one that included a 60-yard return in a victory over Kentucky on Oct. 27.
Richardson's absence could hurt Missouri's attempt to earn its sixth victory. Syracuse, also seeking bowl eligibility at 5-5, routed then-No. 9 Louisville 45-26 last Saturday at the Carrier Dome. The Orange produced 524 yards, featuring a balanced attack that included 246 yards passing and 278 yards rushing.
Richardson's future has been a point of debate among some around the program. He could forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft next April, where he's projected among some experts to be a first-round pick.
Richardson is expected to play in Missouri's regular-season finale against Texas A&M on Nov. 24.
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