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Better Know an SEC Opponent: the Missouri Tigers

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Missouri is bad, yet still favored to beat Vanderbilt, so...

NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The School: The University of Missouri

Record: 2-7 (0-5 in the SEC). Mizzou has only beaten Eastern Michigan and Delaware State this fall. Bobby Johnson should sue them for copyright infringement, because that’s the most mid-2000s Vandy record I’ve ever seen.

Ranking: Unranked in the AP Top 25 and Coaches' Poll. The formulas have Missouri rated 112th in the Real Time RPI (only 100 spots behind last week’s opponent, Auburn) and 77th in Jeff Sagarin’s ratings. That last ranking makes them the nation’s third-best 2-7 team, though. Look out, Michigan State: Mizzou is coming!

Mascot: Officially, it’s the Tiger, but based on every third comment on this site whenever Missouri comes up, it might as well just be this video:

There, I beat you to it, you jackals.

Location: Columbia, MO. The “Athens of Missouri,” which just means it’s slightly nicer than Branson. Not a lot of competition for that title in a state with the nation’s highest Juggalo-to-citizen ratio.

Coach: Barry Odom. The only successful people I’m familiar with named Barry are either singers or giant-headed home run hitters. I don’t see Odom using his bass-filled voice to lure snakes away from Whacking Day, founding the Bee Gees, or gobbling steroids like Pac-Man, so I’m not sold on the BO experience just yet.

Conference: The Southeastern Conference. The Tigers have only been in the SEC since 2012 and still have two more conference championship game appearances than Vanderbilt, who helped found the league.

In no way shape or form is that depressing.

All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 4-3-1. A win pulls Vandy to .500 against exactly two SEC opponents: Missouri and Auburn.

In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 2-2. Bringing Mizzou into the fold really spiced up this rivalry.

The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Two of the nation’s worst offenses combined for 13 total points as Vanderbilt escaped with the first SEC win of the Derek Mason era. Mizzou went an impressive 0-14 on third down and gained just 188 total yards in the football equivalent of staring at the sun.

Do They Run the Triple Option?: No. But they might as well on Saturday, because what have they got to lose at this point?

Is Vandy Favored?: Against a 2-7 team on the road? Nooooooooope. The Commodores kicked off the week as a one-point underdog. It only took 24 hours for that line to grow to 3.5 points, because you just don’t bet against a team who thrashed Delaware State 79-0. By bettors’ logic, regular Delaware would be a two-point favorite on a neutral field against the Commodores.

Most Potent Offensive Threat: South Carolina is a pretty good stand-in for the Commodores, and tailback Damarea Crockett ripped off 82 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries in last week’s loss. He’s gained nearly 6.3 yards per carry for a Missouri offense stronger than its 2-7 record suggests. The Tigers rank 25th in the nation in terms of total offense, so expect a strong test on Saturday.

Most Potent Defensive Threat: Conversely, Mizzou currently ranks 116th in total defense this fall, so don’t expect a repeat of last year’s 10-3 puntathon. Charles Harris has been a beast against SEC competition, however. The defensive end recorded multiple sack games against Georgia (3) and South Carolina (2), forced a fumble against Florida, and recovered a fumble against Kentucky. Expect him to be the latest Tiger defensive lineman to have a highlight reel of VU quarterback sacks playing during the NFL Draft.

Matchup to Watch: Andy Ludwig vs. his early season instincts. Ludwig used Vanderbilt’s bye week to revamp the Commodore offense and find a way to play to Kyle Shurmur’s strengths. The sophomore played his most accurate game as a college quarterback in a brand new approach, which expanded the Vandy attack outside the tackles and put confidence in Shurmur’s ability to make strong throws into tight windows.

If Ludwig goes back to the “run middle/run middle/deep ball to nowhere” offense he relied on in 2015 and much of 2016, we revolt.

Interesting Fact: Missouri is home to the most lit Olympics of all time. They handed out gold medals in dumbbells, tug of war, lacrosse (three teams participated), an American version of croquet (then dominated by the Americans, who were the only ones playing), and hurling.

The guy who won the marathon was powered by rat poison and brandy and nearly died at the finish line.

A guy with a wooden leg won six gold medals. SIX.

Random people from St. Louis just showed up and won medals. It was awesome. If I had a time machine, first thing I would do is go back to 1904 and blow everyone’s mind by being the first contestant to win the mile race without stopping to light a cigarette.

If Misouri wins, we: ugggggggh. Vanderbilt needs this one to lock down a very sad five-win bowl bid and set up a run to a legit six or seven win regular season. Dropping this game, even on the road, to a 2-7 team would drain all the goodwill Derek Mason has raised in the last four weeks. If this team is really trending upward, they’ll leave Columbia with a win.