The Missouri Tigers open their SEC slate against Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville. A win would put Missouri at 5-0 for the first time since 2010, when the Tigers would go on to 10-3 record and slice of the Big-12 regular season championship pie. Both Vanderbilt and Missouri are evenly matched, and the game should figure to come down to one or two close plays at the end. If the Tigers could put out a win against the Commodores, it would be a huge win for the program and would solidify Mizzou as a real player in the SEC this year.
Last season, in Missouri’s first year in the SEC, the Tigers struggled a little bit with the speed and athleticism of the other SEC teams. Mizzou finished with just a 2-6 record in the Southeastern Conference, good for fourth place in the Eastern Division. But a win against Vandy would set Missouri off on the right foot in the SEC, picking up a victory with two other for sure wins (Tennessee, Kentucky) on the schedule. Also, it would prove the Tigers belong in the SEC. Last season, the Tigers only SEC wins came against really bad Tennessee and Kentucky teams. Winning against a very good opponent in Vanderbilt would prove the Tigers can compete and win even against the good teams in this conference.
A win would also put Missouri in great position for a bowl game. Last year, the Tigers missed out on a bowl game after finishing with a 5-7 record overall. This year’s schedule set itself up nicely for a bowl if the Tigers took care of business in non conference play, which they did, and against inferior SEC opponents, which they should. Starting out 5-0 would mean Missouri would only need one more win in the final 7 games of the season to get to that bowl game. Bowl games are valuable not only for the extra game but for all the extra practice time a team gets in the winter. Getting to a bowl would help out the Tigers immensely as a program and help the next year’s team by getting more practice time.