Vanderbilt (2-5) at Missouri (5-2) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Faurot Field (71,004) -- Columbia, Missouri. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Vanderbilt 2-2, Missouri 2-2. Away Record: Vanderbilt 0-2, Missouri 3-0. Neutral Record: Vanderbilt 0-1, Missouri 2-1. Conference Record: Vanderbilt 0-4, Missouri 0-0. Series Record: Missouri leads, 3-2-1.
GAME NOTES: Still in search of their first SEC win of the season, the Vanderbilt Commodores will head to Faurot Field on Saturday afternoon to tangle with the Missouri Tigers.
Vanderbilt was able to snap a three-game losing streak on Oct. 11 with a homecoming victory against FCS opponent Charleston Southern, but just barely, held on for a 21-20 win. The Commodores used a bye week to assess their standing as a 2-5 team with an 0-4 mark in the SEC.
Missouri has been a difficult team to figure out this season. It has a pair of head-scratching home losses, falling to Indiana on Sept. 20 (31-27) and getting shut out by Georgia on Oct. 11 (34-0), but it has collected two strong road wins at South Carolina (21-20) and most recently at Florida last weekend (42-13) to move to 5-2, including 2-1 in the league.
The Tigers hold a 3-2-1 advantage over the Commodores in the all-time series, which includes a 51-28 win in Nashville last season.
The Commodores' offense has been lackluster all season long, as they amass just 17.6 ppg and 270.4 ypg. Even against FCS competition the last time out, they only managed 11 first downs and picked up less than 300 yards.
The struggles are directly attributed to poor quarterback play. Four Vanderbilt signal callers have combined to complete less than 50 percent of passes with four touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Johnny McCrary (10-of-16, 169 yards, TD, INT) and Wade Freebeck (5-of-7, 20 yards) saw time under center against Charleston Southern.
C.J. Duncan emerged in the latest win out wide with seven catches for 119 yards and a score, leaving him with team highs across the board at receiver (20 receptions, 322 yards, two TDs).
Ralph Webb is the workhorse tailback with 122 of the team's 213 carries. He's racked up 560 yards and two touchdowns.
Vanderbilt's defense has not been up to snuff either, allowing 34.0 ppg and 415.9 ypg. The unit has been especially disappointing considering coach Derek Mason's previous standing as defensive coordinator for a stout Stanford squad.
Nigel Bowden has registered a team-high 54 tackles. Caleb Azubike is strong along the defensive line with 6.0 TFL and 4.0 sacks, and Jahmel McInosh (29 tackles) has one of the team's three interceptions.
The Tigers' offense has been an anomaly this season, as they score a respectable 30.7 ppg despite tallying a mere 323.7 ypg. Last week they managed to score 42 despite an incredibly quiet offensive day (seven first downs, 119 yards) thanks to four return touchdowns.
Maty Mauk has cooled off considerably since a hot start to the season. He's accounted for 15 touchdowns this year but only throws for 175.3 ypg with nine interceptions and has completed a mere 52.5 percent of his passes.
A talented backfield is led by Russell Hansbrough (485 yards, six TDs) and Marcus Murphy (374 yards, TD). Murphy is one of the nation's best all-purpose threats, adding stellar receiving (12 receptions, 109 yards, TD), kick return (343 yards, two TDs) and punt return (218 yards, TD) numbers.
Bud Sasser is Mauk's top receiving target with 35 receptions for 477 yards and four touchdowns, while Jimmie Hunt (19 receptions, 229 yards) has stepped up in the red zone with five scores.
Missouri's defense (21.4 ppg, 366.7 ypg) has been excellent, especially in terms of forcing turnovers (eight interceptions, seven fumble recoveries). In last week's win, Markus Golden returned a fumble recovery 21 yards for a touchdown and Darvin Rulse had a 46-yard pick-six.
Braylon Webb (44 tackles) has been active in the takeaway battle with three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Shane Ray (42 tackles, 14.0 TFL) ranks third in the country with 10.0 sacks, Golden (8.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks) has also been solid on the defensive line, and Michael Scherer has racked up a team- best 65 tackles.
Although Missouri has been an unpredictable Jekyll-and-Hype type bunch this season, it won't have much of an issue dismissing Vanderbilt on its home field.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 38, Vanderbilt 10Game Date and Time
Saturday, October 25, 4 p.m. (ET)