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Pregamin’ Vanderbilt

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THE TIGERS ARE HEADED TO NASHVILLE, FRESH OFF COLLECTING A SCALP

Truman’s looking to buy a ticket. But which one...
Josh Matejka

Another week, another dope hype video:

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean:

At publishing time, Mizzou still hasn’t released its game day duds. Personally, I’m hoping for a return to the all whites but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What the “experts” are saying:

1. It feels WILD to say this, but Mizzou is one win away from bowl-eligibility. If someone had told you Mizzou would be in this position after the Kentucky game, how would you have responded?

Chris Bohkay - I would have probably laughed hysterically and assumed they were blinded by the brightest and biggest black and gold sun that ever rotated around the earth.

AlaTiger - I wouldn’t have been as surprised as if you’d have told me after Purdue. The Tigers should have won the Kentucky game. They were just unlucky. You could see progress. But four games in a row at the point was quite a stretch. So if this person were a co-worker of mine, I’d have sent them off for for-cause drug testing.

Mitch Hill - After the Kentucky game, and with how the teams (minus Georgia) looked on the schedule, I would've listened with interest. If it were after the Auburn game they would not even be able to finish the sentence. That game showed signs of life and no quit... AND you can still argue that Mizzou had 2-3 plays left on the table due to some interesting things that happened in the final minute. Before the season, I thought it was a bowl eligible team, 8-9 wins being the ceiling... It's a little backwards with how they've gotten to this point, but I'll take it.

jaeger - I would have laughed right in their stupid faces. I am completely baffled by how this season has unfolded.

switzy227 - Nice! I look forward to watching those games!

dcrockett17 - Kentucky was actually the game that told me it was possible, even if not likely. I'd say the WAY it's been happening (hasn't happened yet--I actually feel a bit squirrely about Vandy) has been the surprise. That is to say, the turnaround has been of the slow, methodical variety. If you were going to have a Jekyll and Hyde season you'd kind of expect to see wild swings in turnover luck. Really, that's not been the case. Instead, every single unit has improved markedly (all while the team has gotten younger in many key spots, as Bill pointed out). Obviously, the schedule lightened up but the surprise to me is that I can't even point to a game during the streak where I thought, "a key turnover is what propelled us to victory." It's been big plays, running games, improved tackling, and field position in every game.

Josh Matejka - I’d have been 12 types of dumb-founded because this has been one of the weirdest seasons I can remember in any sport I’ve watched. I also probably would have offered to give you a ride home, assuming you were insanely and utterly sloshed.

2. This turnaround has been led by a lot of big names - Drew Lock, Ish Witter, Terry Beckner, Jr. etc. Give me one or two guys you think have been unsung heroes throughout this 4-game winning streak.

Chris Bohkay - I don't think you can put Rountree or Sherrils in the unsung group so I'll go with Terez Hall who has been killing it of late.

AlaTiger - Anthony Sherrils for one. Emmanuel Hall certainly. Albert O had made his long name a big name.

Mitch Hill - AJ Logan... He has really opened #DLineZOU back up and helped in ways that don't always show up on a stat sheet. Tre Williams would also be a name to throw out there as "Next one up" to carry that DLine torch. I would also say Kevin Pendleton has been incredible. He is fun to watch as a pulling guard, a pass blocker, all out mean football player (in a good way). It also seems like he is an emotional leader on this team and that's something you can never go without.

jaeger - AJ Logan and TJ Warren. I'm not necessarily saying their return is what's turned the defense from a dumpster fire into a decent group, but I think Logan has raised the level of play on the defensive line, and Warren has shored up a very shaky secondary, particularly by slotting into the nickel linebacker role.

switzy227 - The OL as a whole deserves mad respect even if none of them are generating that Justin Britt/Mitch Morse type of hype. And I'll also say that Tucker McCann should be getting his due for a wildly successful turnaround. It hasn't been a game changer with all the blowouts, but at some point if he remains on his current path, he's going to win a game or two for this team (in 2018 or 2019).

dcrockett17 - Mizzou's overall coverage, both in the press and the blogosphere is really too good to have unsung heroes. But, I'd argue AJ Logan's return really has had the biggest "cascading effect" on the defensive turnaround. He has lengthened the DT rotation. He's taken some attention away from Beckner. And his pocket-collapsing prowess has really helped the DEs. Another name I'd throw out there is Demarkus Acy. My man was 18 different kinds of terrible basically until UConn. One thing I've learned over 20 years in teaching, maturity isn't linear. It often comes in spurts. You could see Acy's tools: big, fast, long. But I'll be damned if it looked like he had the foggiest notion of what he was doing out there. Now, if you squint and project you can see all-conference talent in that package.

Josh Matejka - It’s hard to say guys like Sherills, Rountree and AJ Logan are unheralded mostly because they’ve all been heralded or we were expecting their return - in Logan’s case - to result in a boost. I will say after the start of the year, I’ve been nothing but pleased with Cale Garrett, who seems to be all over the field all the time. He and Terez Hall have really stabilized the linebacking corps. And he may not be the biggest contributor on the field, but it’s been damn good to see Tavon Ross start to make contributions. I remember stressing about him on signing day a few years ago, expecting him to be the next big playmaker in Mizzou’s secondary. And after a few years of injuries and lack of development, we’re finally getting a look at how good he could be. He doesn’t have a ton of time left, but at this rate he’ll make a noticeable impact.

3. Let's not count our chickens before they're hatched, though. Mizzou still needs to get a win to go bowling, and they're closing out with two on the road. Vandy might not be great, but they're not train wrecks like Florida and Tennessee. How does Mizzou need to attack this game to lock up that bowl berth?

Chris Bohkay - Keep doing what they're doing on offense, a good mix of the pass and the run and on defense continue to bend but not break in the secondary. Play Gary Pinkel defensive football.

AlaTiger - More of what we’ve seen the last two weeks. Gash their suspect run defense and when they overcommit to stop it, throw it over the top.

Mitch Hill - Mizzou needs to score early and often and take care of the ball. Let the Tennessee native Emmanuel Hall go deep early. Even when DBs are playing off of him, he still blows right by them. Vandy has never been known to light up the scoreboard, and Mizzou has been a team that appears like they can do just that. 28 points wins this game, but I think Mizzou goes for more (as long as it's not a total downpour). And Mizzou forces Vandy to turn it over a few times as well.

jaeger - Keep the run game rolling. Lock has been on a tear, but Vandy is weak against the run, and the run sets up the play action bombs that our boy Drew loves to throw. I want 200+ yards of rushing again. And defensively they have got to get after Shurmur. He's the best QB we've faced in a while, and while our secondary has improved since they got torn apart early in the year, the best thing the defense can do is put Shurmur on the ground early and often.

switzy227 - Keep doing what they are doing, minus the patented Drew Lock first drive flubber. Our offense should be able to control this game.

dcrockett17 - Vandy frightens me a wee bit because even though Mizzou should easily be favored Vandy's got better than a puncher's chance at their place. I also see the path to an upset loss clear as day. I see the pass defense as improved but inconsistent, which is certainly better than plain awful. What we really haven't seen during the streak is an opponent prepared to throw it 50 times, dinking and dunking to mitigate the pass rush and play keep away from our offense. You mix in guys playing a little tight given the stakes, a road game, and a good enough opposing coach to take advantage of slip-ups and matchups and voila! You got yourself a game into the 4th quarter where anything can happen.

What gives me some confidence--knock wood--is that I feel like the offense has matured enough that it can be efficient without needing the opponent to be Delaware State awful. That is, the offense can have a productive day and put points on the board even against a defense that forces some punts. Even though Lock seems good for one stare down INT a game, he's not been taking that one bad throw with him into the next series and compounding his mistakes. Let's hope one bad throw isn't enough to sink us.

Josh Matejka - Last week’s offensive formula should be adequate against an even worse run defense in Vanderbilt: run it run it run it run it run it run it run it run it run it again run it some more then let Drew Lock throw a bomb over the top. Never stop doing that and they’ll be OK. Defensively, I’m interested to see if they can pressure Kyle Shurmur the way they need to. If they can, it’s going to be a long, fun, celebratory day.

4. PICK EM

Chris Bohkay - Mizzou 31 - Vandy 27, but I'm not extremely confident.

AlaTiger - 41-28 Mizzou

Mitch Hill - Mizzou 38 Vandy 21. Let's go bowling.

jaeger - I think Vandy moves the ball some, but Mizzou uses the run game to grind their way to a win. It stays close enough that the offense never slows down. 58-38 Tigers.

switzy227 - Mizzou keeps rolling: 44-21

Josh Matejka - Mizzou 48 - Vanderbilt 31