Two teams fighting to gain bowl eligibility square off Saturday, when Vanderbilt hosts Missouri for a Southeastern Conference clash. The Tigers are looking for their fifth straight victory, while the Commodores hope to break through for their first win in SEC play.
Missouri’s season appeared to be in shambles when it lost five straight to fall to 1-5, but Barry Odom’s team has rallied for four consecutive blowout wins – including lopsided home victories over Florida and Tennessee over the last two weeks – and needs just one more triumph to be eligible for a bowl. “They’ve been through a lot,” Odom told reporters. “That was one of our goals that we talked about, having a chance to play after the regular season is over. You get to 1-0 this week, and that opens a whole other world of opportunities for us.” The odds are longer for the Commodores, who have dropped six of seven since a 3-0 start and need to close out the regular season with wins over Missouri and at Tennessee to become bowl-eligible. The Tigers beat the Commodores 26-17 last season for the first of their two SEC wins.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Missouri -8.5
ABOUT MISSOURI (5-5, 2-4 SEC): The Tigers’ turnaround has revolved around a vastly improved defense rising up to complement one of the nation’s best offenses. Missouri shut out Tennessee in the second half and has recorded 38 tackles for loss during its winning streak to take over the SEC lead in that category. Quarterback Drew Lock leads the nation with 35 touchdown passes and has tossed at least three in six straight games, but the Tigers’ ground game has rolled up at least 175 rushing yards in four straight contests - gaining 433 last week against Tennessee.
ABOUT VANDERBILT (4-6, 0-6): The Commodores’ pass defense has been excellent, holding opponents under 200 yards per game, but they’ve been gashed by the run. The offensive numbers are pedestrian, but Vanderbilt has talent at the skill positions, with running back Ralph Webb and quarterback Kyle Shurmur providing balance. Shurmur has thrown 21 touchdown passes, one shy of matching Whit Taylor’s single-season school record, and seven interceptions.
1. Missouri is trying to become the 13th team in FBS history and the second ever in the SEC to become bowl-eligible after starting 1-5.
2. Vanderbilt has averaged 10 tackles for loss in its four wins.
3. Missouri has scored 45 or more points in four straight games for the first time in program history.
PREDICTION: Missouri 41, Vanderbilt 27