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Missouri should be able to find running room against Vanderbilt

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The Commodores’ run defense has struggled, allowing just under 200 yards per game on the ground.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri put up 38 points on Florida Saturday. Florida has the fifth-best defense in the SEC. Vanderbilt has the 11th-best defense in the SEC.

You do the math.

The Tigers’ potent offense bounced-back against the Gators partly due to the presence of recently-healthy wide receiver Emanuel Hall, and they’ll carry that momentum into this week’s game as Missouri tries to become bowl-eligible.

Vanderbilt has the nation’s 79th-ranked defense, allowing 412.4 yards and 26 points per game (32 ppg vs. SEC opponents) — 196.7 of those yards come against the run (98th in FBS, 13th in SEC) and 215.8 against the pass (50th in FBS, 7th in SEC).

SEC running backs have torn apart the Commodores thus far:

  • Florida’s Lamical Perine and Jordan Scarlett combined for 234 yards on 39 carries (6 ypc).
  • Georgia’s three-headed monster of Elijah Holyfield, D’Andre Swift and James Cook ran for 170 yards on just 20 carries (8.5 ypc).
  • Kentucky’s Benny Snell Jr. rushed 32 times for 169 yards (5.3 ypc).
  • Arkansas’ Rakeem Boyd carried the ball 19 times for 113 yards (5.9 ypc).
  • South Carolina’s Rico Dowdle gassed Vanderbilt’s defense for 112 yards on 20 rushes (5.6 ypc).

In total, SEC teams have rushed for an average of 254.2 yards on the ground per game this year against Vanderbilt.

Even if Missouri running back Tyler Badie is scratched from Saturday’s game, the Tigers still have their one-two punch that’s as good as any in the country with Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree III. The two have averaged just over 138 yards per game on 5.1 yards per carry.

Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley uses the two somewhat interchangeably, as both have carried the ball exactly 122 times each thus far. This keeps defenses unprepared for whether they’ll face the bruising Crockett or speedy Rountree, creating a substantial advantage for Missouri’s rushing attack.

Expect a heavy dose of running from the Missouri offense come Saturday, eventually setting up some big passing plays downfield to Hall and Co. It should be a big day offensively for the Tigers as they’ll likely run up the score on a struggling Vanderbilt defense.