Vanderbilt vs. Missouri Prediction: Picks, betting odds, analysis, more

 Billy Jones   in Football

Missouri and Vanderbilt will battle it out Saturday in Nashville for what will be both teams’ best chances at an SEC win. Missouri would still have an outside chance at a bowl game with a win on Saturday, while Vanderbilt could build some serious momentum with what could be their first SEC win in just over two years against (drumroll please) Missouri.

When Missouri has the ball

Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz’s specialty is offense and he has certainly provided that both last year and this year.

His team is led by star running back Tyler Badie and returning SEC Freshman of the Year Connor Bazelak at quarterback. Led by these two stars, the Mizzou offense is scoring 34.4 points a game at over 440 yards per game on offense.

The offense is very friendly to the quarterback. The Tigers' mix of zone running, from primarily 11 personnel, puts a lot of pressure on a defense as the play-action game often opens up due to this strong running game.

Vanderbilt’s defense will have to stop the run and force Mizzou into a drop-back passing game which is somewhere that the Tigers would not like to be.

Vanderbilt should, on paper, be built to match up against this Mizzou offense with its 4-2-5 defense. The pressure will be on the defensive line to hold up the front and allow the linebackers to clean up plays in the middle.

So far, this defense has struggled to do so. Clark Lea’s front four, led by four upperclassmen starters - Elijah McAlister, Daevion Davis, Raashaan Wilkins Jr., and Nate Clifton - will have to hold up in the trenches to allow their linebackers to make plays.

Missouri will provide a much different challenge than Mississippi State did last week. This could be a blessing in disguise as Leach’s Air Raid offense rolled to the tune of 451 yards and 45 points through the air. The result, however, could be the same for the Commodores.

When Vanderbilt has the ball

Quarterback Mike Wright was not the spark at an offense that clicked Vandy into gear, although he never really had a chance to get going. His Commodores ran only 41 plays on the night as they had the ball for just over 20 minutes.

The big takeaway from Saturday is that Vanderbilt has to run the ball better. If their offense wants to stay on the field and move the ball, then 17 carries for six yards will not get the job done.

Unlocking this running game could involve utilizing Wright’s running ability more than Vandy did on Saturday to try and put more pressure on the defense. 

Even with a new quarterback, Vanderbilt still showed that it could not run the ball nor move the ball effectively, leaving the offense with limited options on Saturday to try and get the running game going.

This Mizzou defense, however, may be all that is needed to get the running game going.

Missouri has struggled tremendously on defense, which is entirely due to their inability to stop the run game. Opponents have run for 286 yards a game on this defense which has been a significant hindrance to a team with a pretty successful offense.

A lot of these issues have stemmed from basic football mistakes. An inability of defensive linemen to get off blocks and poor fits from linebackers have allowed opposing offenses to run all over the Tigers.

Coupled with the front seven woes is the fact that Mizzou can not get off the field. Missouri ranks 125th in opponent third-down percentage this season.

Vanderbilt’s offense has been anemic this year, but their two biggest issues - running the ball and staying on the field - have been Achilles Heels for Missouri this year which could help kick the Vandy offense into gear.

Vanderbilt vs. Missouri Prediction

Nick Cole and Christopher Smith share their Vanderbilt vs. Missouri prediction and betting picks for Week 9 of the 2021 college football season.