Derek Mason and the Vanderbilt Commodores (4-5, 1-4 SEC) are look to finally turn the corner and reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013. A victory over Barry Odom’s Missouri Tigers (2-7, 0-5 SEC) in Columbia will be a large step towards that goal, but Mizzou is looking to turn its season around.
The Tigers will need to get something going against a Vanderbilt defense that has kept games tight. Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock is the flame that sparks the Tiger offense — he’s thrown for 2,517 yards with a 54.3 completion percentage on the season. If the Tigers can find success moving the ball, Vanderbilt’s offense will struggle to keep up. The key for the Tiger offense will be to score and not fall behind early. A comeback will be highly unlikely against the Commodores’ defense.
Vanderbilt has been able to keep games tight by not allowing large point totals all year. The key to success for the Commodores is to stop Missouri on offense, allowing their own offense to get good field position and put points on the board. Cutting drives short with sacks and tackles for loss will be also be key Vanderbilt. The Commodore defense averages 2.38 sacks per game, which ranks 36th in the country. Drive-ending defensive plays will be crucial if Vanderbilt wants to get a fifth win Saturday.
On the flip side, the Commodore offense has struggled all season, costing them late down the stretch in games. If Vanderbilt can get good production from running back Ralph Webb, then it should lead to a victory.
Webb is third in the SEC with 901 rushing yards on the season with an average of just over five yards per carry. He will look to exploit a Missouri defense that has allowed 232.7 rushing yards per game, 16th-worst in the country. If Vanderbilt can lean on Webb for an early score, it will be up to the defense to lead the Commodores to victory.
The game will be low scoring with Vanderbilt’s defense holding Missouri offense. The Commodores will struggle early on offense, but manage to put some points up as the game carries on. Vanderbilt will pull out a nail-biting 17-13 win on the road to move one step closer to a bowl berth.
Edited by Nathan Odom
Featured image by Clare Murphy