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Better Know an SEC Opponent: The Missouri Tigers

Vanderbilt squandered an opportunity for an SEC win last week, but they'll basically get a re-do when they face a Missouri team that has a lot of the same problems that South Carolina does. Except they have a head coach.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The School: The University of Missouri

Record: 4-3 (1-3 in the SEC). Missouri was 11-3 in 2014.

Ranking: Unranked in the AP Top 25 and Coaches' Poll. The formulas have USC rated 45th in the Real Time RPI. They are ranked 62nd in Warren Nolan's power rankings (Vandy is #106, and Temple, last week's #1, is now #9).

Mascot: The Tigers. One of three Tigers in the Southeastern Conference. It's like your Create-a-Dynasty from NCAA Football '14 come to life.

Location: Columbia, Missouri. Jesus, not even their home town is original in the SEC.

Coach: Gary Pinkel, seen here:

preparing for his immediate transition to the nursing home after retiring in 2026.

Conference: The ESS-EEE-CEE. Formerly the Big 12. Remember when we thought the Big 12 was going to fall apart when Nebraska, Texas A&M, and Missouri left? How did TCU and Baylor wind up as the league's saviors? Does that mean Iowa State and Kansas are next?*

All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 4-2-1.

In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 2-1.

The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Missouri 24, Vanderbilt 14. With 1:09 left in the game, the Commodores, trailing by 10 points, punted on fourth-and-31 from their own four-yard line. I'd call it an act of surrender, but it's not like there's any sense in sending up a white flag when a nuclear warhead is only a few feet from exploding on your house. At least it got us prepared for the Mississippi State game, which was basically just 60 minutes of a lonely bugle playing "Taps" while the world burns in the background.

Is Vandy Favored?: Missouri has scored nine points in their last two games. UConn held them to fewer than 10 points. And yet,


Most Potent Offensive Threat: Missouri scored nine points against UConn. At home. Here's a list of teams that have scored more points against the Huskies this season: Villanova. Army. Central Florida. LITERALLY EVERYONE ELSE THEY'VE PLAYED. I'm gonna go with N/A for this one.

Most Potent Defensive Threat: Charles Harris is the latest in a line of Missouri players whose draft stock will be aided by oft-replayed clips of sacks against Vandy quarterbacks (see Sam, Michael and Ray, Shane). He's also keeping the Tiger tradition of having two first names as your full name alive. He's got 12.5 tackles for loss - with five sacks and four more QB hurries - so far this season, and he's probably pretty juiced about seeing the Commodores' ramshackle offensive line this weekend.

Matchup to Watch: Drew Lock vs. the Commodore secondary. Lock completed just 11 of his 26 passes in last week's loss to Georgia. There are only nine teams in the FBS that score fewer points per game than Vanderbilt, and Lock happens to be running one of them. The Commodores' defensive backs came up big to force a key interception late against South Carolina, but Johnny McCrary gave the ball back to the Gamecocks the very next play. They'll be working to force a turnover that actually changes the game on Saturday.

Interesting Fact: Woody Widenhofer's first college head coaching job came at Missouri, where he went 12-31-1. Of course, this sterling record was enough to convince Vanderbilt to hire him less than a decade later. Woody, as you may remember, went 15-40 in his five years (FIVE!) in Nashville. Somehow, he won the same exact percentage of games (27.272727%) in each stop.

Bonus Fact!: Derek Mason's winning percentage as a head coach is 27.77%. SUCK ON THAT, WIDENHOFER.

If Missouri wins, we: cross another win opportunity off the 2015 schedule. Missouri has a lot of the same problems that South Carolina did (you know, other than not having a coach), thanks to an anemic offense and an unstable passing situation. We're due for another situation where 24 points probably means a Commodore win - but Vanderbilt has only broken that threshold once, and it was against hapless Austin Peay. The Tigers will give Vandy a winnable home game on Saturday - but a loss would make a two or three-win season even more likely for 2015.

*Just kidding. UT-San Antonio will win the Big 12 before Iowa State does.