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Anthrascience: Clobbering the Commodores

Throw the last four wins away, the real season starts now. Time to find out what it will take for the Tigers to open conference play with a win.

JAMES, we'll cook in the SEC!
JAMES, we'll cook in the SEC!
Jack Peglow

As of this very moment, Mizzou is 0-0. Sure we had some fun times during the non-conference schedule, but none of that matters now. Because of this, we're going to breeze through last week's recap and then get down to business.

s(d + dB) > s(4m - 30T)

Distance (d) - 239 yards on the ground may have been a bit below our per game average, but it was more than enough to secure a win.

Decibels (dB) - The fans did a lot to redeem themselves last week. Most of them stayed and cheered on the Tigers even though the weather conditions were less than optimal, so we'll set this value at a nice, round 80.

Swings (s) - I counted three momentum shifting plays: The long TD pass to Dorial Green-Beckham, E.J. Gaines' late interception, and the big stop at the end of the first half by Markus Golden and Kony Ealy. As far as ASU is concerned, I'll spot them 1.5 swings. They didn't have any big plays per say (their longest rush went for nine yards and their longest pass 37), but they sustained some drives early and forced a decent number of three-and-outs.

Minutes (m) - The Tigers really struggled here in the first half. After two quarters, ASU had held the ball for 20:48 and Mizzou only a paltry 8:12. We improved greatly in the second half, but the final tally still favored the Red Wolves 34:12 to 25:48.

Turnovers (T) - The streak continues thanks to Gaines' interception.

After plugging in all of these super legit numbers, the formula looks like this:

3(239+80) > 1.5(4x34.12-30x1)

-- Math things --

957 > 159.72

So yeah, last week's formula ended up a bit lopsided in Mizzou's favor. BUT SO DID THE SCORE SO Y'ALL SHUT UP.



Now on to the real games. We in ESS EEE SEE play now PAAAWWWWWLLLLLL, and yew know them Tigers gon' need to get back to baysics if they wanna com-peet! Know whut that means? RUNNIN' THE DANG BAWL... But seriously, that's a big deal this week. This figures to be a close game, so the Points Scored values this week focus on execution. They are Distance, Field Position, and Opacity.

Distance (d)

Returning from last week, this value focuses on Mizzou's running game. Our ground game currently leads the SEC with a hefty 262.2 yards per game, which is 25.2 ypg more than second place Arkansas, who has played five games. The Tigers are also tied for second with 14 rushing touchdowns, trailing LSU by only one score. Missouri needs to keep this ball rolling against the Commodores. I don't expect them to hit their average, but anything over 200 yards would be greatly appreciated. A solid game rushing would also help the rest of the SEC realize that our three-headed monster at running back is a threat that needs to be taken seriously.

Field Position (f)

If this game stays close, this could end up being the difference between a win and a loss. Vanderbilt boasts the conference's best net punting average with 43 yards per punt, which is about 6 yards better than Missouri's. If there was ever a game for Marcus Murphy to notch a big return, this would be it. The best way to measure this will probably be as a multiplier.

Opacity (Ω)

Another Anthrascience veteran returns this week. Vandy sits at third place in the SEC with eleven sacks through five games. In order for our offense to function at cruising speed, James Franklin has to have time to go through progressions and make the right reads. Solid offensive line play will also open up lanes for our running backs. Our line has been getting better each game, so anything worse than a 75 will be a big disappointment.

With everything on the PS side of the equation defined, our formula now looks like this:

f(d+Ω) > PA

On the defensive side of the ball, Anthrascience focuses on one major Commodore contributor and then shifts its attention to handling the pressures of hostile environments. This weeks' Points Allowed values are Jordan Matthews, Field Position, and Decibels.

Jordan Matthews (Y)

The senior WR from Madison, Alabama has been Vanderbilt's biggest offensive weapon so far this year. The Y receiver's 117.2 yards per game average is second only to Mike Evans of Texas A&M, and his 586 receiving yards make up 46% of his team's total passing yards. On top of that, he is responsible for half of his team's eight touchdown receptions. This dude can flat out ball, but if you can put the clamps on his production then Vandy will be in trouble. Missouri's secondary has been less than stellar this season (we're dead last in the SEC in passing yards allowed per game), but hopefully Gaines to make things a bit difficult for Matthews. Keep the stud WR below his season average, and Mizzou will be in a good position at the end of the game.

Field Position (f)

This value is so important that it makes a second appearance on the PA side of the equation. If the Commodores end up with a better average starting field position than the Tigers, our boys will be in trouble. Luckily, Vanderbilt only averages 20.8 yards per kickoff return and 3.9 yards per punt return. If our coverage can stay disciplined, we shouldn't have to worry about big field position swings in Vandy's favor. Since this is a multiplier on the PS side, it only makes sense to continue the trend on the PA side.

Decibels (dB)

A second variable from last week carries over, but on the opposite side of the equation. When playing in enemy territory, it's important that you string together a few drives and hit some big plays to keep the opposing fans from really getting into the game. If Missouri doesn't allow Vanderbilt's fans to get rowdy, their chances of stealing a win on the road increase drastically.

With that, we have defined the entire formula. Sha-bang, sha-bop, science:

f(d+Ω) > f(Y+dB)

You know the drill, big PS numbers and small PA numbers spell good things for the Tigers. This looks to be the closest outcome yet, so it's going to take a strong game from Mizzou if they want to steal a win on the road. This is our most important game since last year's season-opener against Georgia. Start SEC play 1-0 and the future looks pretty bright. Drop the first conference game and it will be an uphill battle the rest of the way.