Thus far in the 2013 season, the Missouri Tigers look like a mid-tier team in the always difficult and challenging SEC Conference. Mizzou has started the season 4-0 and along with top-ranked Alabama, are one of only two teams with an unblemished record.
Of course, Mizzou has yet to play a SEC game yet this season and has marched to easy wins over hapless opponents such as Arkansas State, Murray State and Indiana of the Big 10. But all of that will change on Saturday evening as Mizzou squares off against Vanderbilt in Nashville. Vanderbilt is a very solid team and Mizzou has an opportunity to turn some heads with a road victory.
The game with Vandy should have been one circled on Gary Pinkel’s calendar for some time for several reasons.
1. Mizzou lost to Vanderbilt at home last season in an ugly game that saw quarterback James Franklin get hurt. The Tigers were embarrassed at home and while Vandy is a very good team, that is not a game you lose on your own field if you have plans of being a force in the SEC.
2. This is a winnable game. Vandy is good, but not spectacular. Missouri is well-positioned to win this game and if the Tigers have hopes of reaching eight wins on the season, this is one Mizzou must grab.
3. If Mizzou wins, they are suddenly 5-0 on the season before heading to Athens, Georgia next week for a tilt with the powerful Georgia Bulldogs. While Georgia would be heavy favorites, Mizzou’s undefeated record would give programmers a reason to feature and discuss the game and any time Mizzou can get some extra exposure in a positive way, that is good for the program and recruiting.
4. The Tigers have primarily played against spread offensive attacks thus far and will be challenged by Vanderbilt’s power offense. If the Mizzou defense can hold up well, it may prove that Pinkel’s team is better suited for the SEC-style of football than we previously believed.
5. With a big game, James Franklin may able to position himself among the conference’s elite quarterbacks and second best mobile quarterback behind Johnny Manziel. Franklin has been outstanding thus far this season and if he can lead the Tigers to a big game, his numbers will be supported by a big win as he solidifies his stature as a very good college football quarterback.
6. Mizzou’s running attack has been outstanding all season and if Henry Josey, Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough can move the chains as effectively on the ground like the Tigers have through the team’s first four games, SEC defenses will have to start worrying about the dual threat the Tigers offense imposes.
7. With a win, Pinkel can certainly remove his bottom from the hot seat. Many still think the long-time coach at Mizzou is in trouble of losing his job if the Tigers are not more successful during SEC play. A win at Vanderbilt would certainly quiet the skeptics and buy Pinkel some more time in Columbia.
All-in-all, there is a lot on the line for Mizzou on Saturday night at Vanderbilt. A loss would prove that this year’s team is no different than last year’s and that the program has not taken any steps forward.
A win though, could create some very interesting opportunities for the Tigers and accelerate Mizzou’s transition into the SEC.
- Mizzou football: Predicting the entire Missouri Tigers 2013 schedule (stlsportsminute.com)
- Missouri football: Reacting to Mizzou’s big road win over Indiana (stlsportsminute.com)
- Missouri football: Analyzing Mizzou’s win over Toledo with Ashley Zavala (stlsportsminute.com)
- Missouri football: Having Arkansas on 2014 schedule is a blessing (stlsportsminute.com)