Key play: During the closing minutes of the period, quarterback Maty Mauk lofted a 35-yard pass up the left sideline for senior Jimmie Hunt. The completion eclipsed Mauk’s production for the entire Florida game (20 yards), though he was only two of six for 40 yards in the first quarter.
Key stat: Vanderbilt’s offense mustered only 32 yards in 13 plays. The Commodores had 14 yards rushing in seven carries and redshirt quarterback Johnny McCray completed only three of six passes for 18 yards.
Key play: McCrary capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive to end the first half with a 9-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman (and fourth-string) tight end Nathan Marcus. Vanderbilt had 53 total yards before that drive, which trimmed Missouri’s lead to 10-7 at halftime.
Key stat: Mauk finished the first half four of 10 for 50 yards, which actually was an improvement over the last two games for a half. Fortunately, the Missouri run game had 106 yards in 22 carries, including a 10-yard Russell Hansbrough touchdown.
Key play: Mauk tossed a 13-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Bud Sasser with 2:27 remaining in the third quarter. It was hist first touchdown in 101 passes, dating back to the fourth quarter against Indiana, and ended a streak of 235 minutes, 53 seconds of game action without a touchdown pass.
Key stat: Missouri senior punter Christian Brinser owned a net punting average of 40.3 yards on four punts. He pinned Vanderbilt’s struggling offense inside the 20 twice and also bailed out the Tigers’ offense when it stalled deep in its own territory.
Key play: Mauk lobbed a 25-yard touchdown for Sasser to the back corner of the end zone, capping a 10-play and 70-yard drive while also boosting Missouri’s lead to 24-14. It was a terrific counterpunch after Vanderbilt pulled within three points with 6:53 remaining.
Key stat: Missouri converted three of four third downs in the fourth quarter, helping accrue 10:31 in time of possession. The Tigers had been zero for eight on fourth-quarter, third-down conversions in SEC play.
Player of the game: Senior wide receiver Bud Sasser, who finished with five catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Sasser ended a streak of nearly four games without a touchdown when he hauled in a 13-yard TD in the third quarter and later iced the game with a circus 25-yard TD in the back corner of the end zone.
Reason to hope: Missouri’s defense put together another terrific game. Vanderbilt redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny McCrary went 17 of 31 for 196 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but the run defense was stout, allowing only 44 yards in 27 carries.
Reason to mope: Missouri committed 14 penalties for 100 yards, which is as much about coaching as it is about discipline and, while the passing game improved, it’s far from fixed.
Looking ahead: SEC Nation, the Saturday morning football pregame show on the new SEC Network, will make its debut at Missouri ahead of a 3 p.m. kickoff against Kentucky next weekend. The Wildcats are a dangerous team despite Saturday’s 45-31 loss to No. 1 Mississippi State.
Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
If we’re grading on a scale, it’s an A+. Missouri’s run game produced nearly 250 yards and quarterback Maty Mauk threw a touchdown, two of them actually, for the first time in four games.
Vanderbilt rushed for a meager 44 yards and finished with 240 yards of total offense, which is 30 below its season average. Missouri didn’t rack up its usual number of sacks, but still played well.
The good: Marcus Murphy forced Vanderbilt to change its entire kicking game plan and Christian Brinser had another rock-solid game. The bad: Andrew Baggett connected from 37 yards then missed badly from 42, while Anthony Sherrils was ejected for targeting on a punt return.
Pinkel took the blame for the 14 penalties for 100 yards. Beyond that, the offensive and defensive game plans were effective and the Tigers gained bowl eligibility with a victory.