This is a must-win for a reeling Missouri team. The Tigers have dropped two straight and currently sit at 1-3 in SEC play. A win doesn’t necessarily seal Mizzou’s bowl fate, but a loss would come close. Saturday also marks coach Gary Pinkel’s 300th career game. Pinkel’s 190 wins are tied with Kansas State’s Bill Snyder for the second most among active coaches, trailing only Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer. Pinkel is 2-1 all-time against Vanderbilt and the Commodores have dropped 11 straight SEC games.
Here’s what else you need to know:
Missouri (4-3) (1-3) at Vanderbilt (2-4) (0-3)
Kickoff: Sat., Oct. 23, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Weather: 70 degrees, cloudy with 45% chance of rain (Weather.com)
Line: Mizzou -2
By the numbers
- 1 – Under Pinkel Mizzou has lost just one game when allowing less than 10 points. The Tigers have also won just one game in that span when scoring less than 10. Both occurrences have happened this season.
- 9 – Freshman quarterback Drew Lock is making his fourth consecutive start for the suspended Maty Mauk. The Tigers haven’t scored a touchdown in nine quarters dating back to an Oct. 3 win over South Carolina.
- 12.9 – Mizzou leads the SEC in scoring defense, which also ranks sixth nationally. The Tigers have held eight consecutive opponents to 21 points or fewer dating back to last season. Vanderbilt has failed to score more than 20 points in eight straight games against FBS competition.
- 36 – Senior linebacker Kentrell Brothers is making his 36th consecutive start. Brothers leads the nation with 91 tackles. He also has 5.5 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions.
Storylines to watch:
Which team can win the quarterback battle?
Since dazzling fans in his first career start against South Carolina, Drew Lock has struggled in back-to-back starts against Florida and UGA, completing a total of 27 passes in the two games and nearly throwing as many interceptions (2) as he has led scoring drive (3). While Vanderbilt’s defense is no slouch, it isn’t quite at the level of what Lock has seen recently. Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary has thrown 10 interceptions already this season and has struggled so much that Vandy coach Derek Mason hinted at trying different options on Saturday should things go south. Neither quarterback will have to score a ton of points considering how formidable the defenses are and how atrocious the offenses have been. Whichever quarterback can lead two touchdown drives should walk away with a win.
Can the Mizzou offense stay on the field?
Few have been worse than Mizzou at converting on third down. The Tigers have picked up just 18 first downs over their last two games and have been horrendous on third down, converting on just three of 27 attempts in that span. Vanderbilt has been elite at getting off of the field on third down, the Tigers must convert or they’ll be in a dogfight.
Will the real Russell Hansbrough please stand up?
During his junior season, Hansbrough rushed for 1,084 yards and 10 touchdowns, but he has struggled to return to form this fall. In a 24-14 win over Vandy last year Hansbrough had 104 total yards and a touchdown on 20 touches; the Tigers need that guy back. The Mizzou defense has been on the field for 38 minutes and 77 snaps in each of the last two games and that is just too much. Hansbrough not only brings balance to the offense, but takes some pressure of the Mizzou defense, which has had to be Superman just to keep the Tigers in games.
Prediction: Missouri 20, Vanderbilt 10
They’ll prove Vegas right, falling just below the 34 over/under, but in the end it’s a Mizzou win. The Tigers defense should feast on a Vandy offense that loves allowing pressure and turning the football over. Meanwhile, look for Lock to be much more of the game manager that he was against South Carolina, completing passes, moving the chains and playing efficient football.