COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 14: Austyn Carta-Samuels #6 of the Vanderbilt Commodores during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) By Streeter Lecka
NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 28: Jerron Seymour #3 of the Vanderbilt Commodores scores a touchdown against the UAB Blazers at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) By Frederick Breedon
COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 06: Head coach Gary Pinkel of he Missouri Tigers watches action from the sidelines during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores on October 6, 2012 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) By Jamie Squire
(Missouri Football App) – Now, the real test begins.
Non-conference play is over and the Tigers are undefeated. With the weaker part of their schedule behind them, the difficult stage of the season is about to begin. Mizzou opens conference play Saturday against Vanderbilt.
Traditionally, other SEC teams could check off the Vanderbilt game as a victory. That’s not the case anymore. Head coach James Franklin has turned the Commodores around. Franklin has been in Nashville since the start of the 2011 season with an overall record of 18-13. In his first two seasons the team won 15 games, which is the highest two year total since the late 1920s.
The Commodores come into the match-up with Mizzou with 3-2 record, but both losses came against tough opponents. Vandy opened the season with a 4-point loss to Ole Miss and then went down in defeat two weeks later in South Carolina.
Senior cornerback E.J. Gaines said the Tigers go into Saturday’s game with something to prove.
“I think it [a win] proves that we can win within the conference, and also be successful on the road,” senior cornerback E.J Gaines said. “Winning on the road is something that great football teams have to do, and everybody obviously has to play away games. Starting off with a road conference game is going to be pretty exciting.”
A road victory against Vandy would be Mizzou’s first important win as a member of the SEC. It may also be the difference between playing in a bowl game, and going home for the winter.