When/where: 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
TV/radio: KCTV (Ch. 5); KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)
The series: Tied 2-2-1
The line: Vanderbilt by 1 1/2
MISSOURI (4-0, 0-0 SEC)
|Aug. 31||Murray State||W, 58-14|
|Sept. 7||Toledo||W, 38-23|
|Sept. 21||at Indiana||W, 45-28|
|Sept. 28||Arkansas State||W, 41-19|
|Saturday||at Vanderbilt||6:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 12||at Georgia||11 a.m.|
|Oct. 26||South Carolina||TBA|
|Nov. 9||at Kentucky||TBA|
|Nov. 23||at Mississippi||TBA|
|Nov. 30||Texas A&M||TBA|
VANDERBILT (3-2, 0-2 SEC)
|Aug. 29||Mississippi||L, 39-35|
|Sept. 7||Austin Peay||W, 38-3|
|Sept. 14||at South Carolina||L, 35-25|
|Sept. 21||at Massachusetts||W, 24-7|
|Sept. 28||Alabama-Birmingham||W, 52-24|
|Oct. 26||at Texas A&M||TBA|
|Nov. 9||at Florida||TBA|
|Nov. 23||at Tennessee||TBA|
|Nov. 30||Wake Forest||TBA|
What’s at stake
It’s easy to point to last season’s home loss against Vanderbilt as the difference between Missouri reaching six wins and qualifying for a bowl game. The Tigers certainly don’t want history to repeat. A victory would validate a strong nonconference showing and virtually assure Missouri a 13th game in addition to starting SEC play on the right foot.
Cheers if ...
Missouri is efficient on offense. The Tigers’ attack occasionally has lacked consistency, battling through mid-game lulls too often. Missouri will face the best defense it’s seen this season. Vanderbilt has a seasoned, experienced secondary and allows 6.2 yards per pass attempt, which is second only to Florida in the SEC, but the Commodores are vulnerable against the run.
Jeers if ...
Vanderbilt racks up big plays in the passing game. Missouri’s pass defense has given up 12 plays of 20 yards or more through the season’s first four games. Those big plays can’t continue as the Tigers move into SEC competition. In five games, the Commodores have 18 pass plays of at least 20 yards, including eight long-gainers to Jordan Matthews and six from Jonathan Krause.
Three things about Vanderbilt
1 Under third-year coach James Franklin, who spent two seasons on Bill Snyder’s staff at Kansas State, Vanderbilt is 18-13 overall, including 15 wins in the his first two seasons. That total represents the most since Dan McGugin won 16 games his first two years from 1904-05.
2 Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, who played briefly under former Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen, ranks seventh in the SEC in passing efficiency (152.3) right behind Missouri’s James Franklin. He’s 86 of 136 for 1,223 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.
3 Vanderbilt’s ranks 84th in the nation in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 42.1 percent of the time. That could be critical against Missouri, which ranks sixth in the nation converting on third down 57.4 percent of the time.
Missouri’s wide receivers vs. Vanderbilt’s secondary: The Tigers have plenty of weapons with Dorial Green-Beckham, Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington among others, but the Commodores have a veteran secondary led by senior cornerback Andre Hal, who has broken up seven passes already this season. Keeping drives alive by winning one-on-one battles downfield will be crucial.
Tod Palmer’s pick: Missouri 38-30
Vanderbilt’s opponents are a perfect 14 for 14 in red-zone scoring opportunities, including nine touchdowns this season. Missouri must continue that trend, capitalizing when those chances come. The Tigers are better at creating turnovers as well, which could prove pivotal.
| Tod Palmer, email@example.com