MISSOURI PASSING DEFENSE
True freshman Jordan Cunningham is third for the 'Dores with nine receptions for 79 yards. Running backs Wesley Tate and Jerron Seymour have six receptions each; Tate leads the pair with 76 yards receiving and a touchdown. Redshirt sophomore Steven Scheu has five receptions for 62 yards and a score.
Austyn Carta-Samuels is coming off the best performance of his career against UAB. The redshirt senior quarterback has completed 88 for 136 pass attempts for 1,223 yards passing and eight touchdowns. Carta-Samuels has five interceptions this season.
Missouri is dead last in the SEC with opponents averaging 282.8 yards passing per game. However, the Tiger secondary is second in the conference with ten interceptions.
Senior cornerback E.J. Gaines leads the Tigers with 26 tackles, including two for a loss, and a team high three interceptions. Opposite Gaines is Randy Ponder who has two tackles and two passes defended this season.
Braylon Webb has assisted in helping to stop the run at strong safety with 22 tackles, including one for a loss and an interception. Free safety Matt White is tied for first on the team with 42 consecutive games played. White has 17 tackles and grabbed the first interception of his career against Toledo.
MISSOURI RUSHING DEFENSE
Sophomore running back Brian Kimbrow is third on the team with 22 carries for 109 yards rushing and a score. The Commodores currently rank last in the SEC averaging 157.6 yards rushing per game, while tied for first with Texas A&M with 15 rushing touchdowns.
Offensive tackle Wesley Johnson has 43 consecutive starts for the 'Dores. Johnson has been flagged once for holding in the 43 game span. The senior has accounted for all but two Commodore offensive touchdowns over the last three seasons.
Middle linebacker Andrew Wilson leads the linebacker corps with 26 tackles, including 1½ for a loss, with a quarterback hurry. The senior had a career best 17 tackles, including eight solo stops against Arkansas State last week. Strong side linebacker Donovan Bonner has experience in 40 games for the Tigers and finally jumps into a starting role after starting three games a year ago.
Missouri expects to have junior defensive tackle Matt Hoch back after he sat out the Arkansas State game with an injury. Senior defensive end Michael Sam leads the Mizzou defensive line with 17 tackles, including a team high seven for a loss, three sacks, and a forced fumble. The Tigers are tied for 26th in the country with opponents averaging 115.75 yards rushing per game against them.
VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
Marcus Lucas also has 21 receptions for a total of 202 yards receiving. Last year the senior receiver caught four passes for 54 yards receiving against the Commodores. Also back for his final season is L'Damian Washington who is third on the team with 19 receptions for 254 yards receiving, and three touchdowns.
Dorial Green-Beckham has increased his production since the last time these two teams met. The sophomore leads Mizzou with 21 receptions for 334 yards receiving, and four touchdowns--all of which are team highs. Missouri's Franklin also makes good use of junior receivers Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt. Hunt leads the pair with 10 receptions for 83 yards receiving and a score.
Vanderbilt senior safeties lead the team in tackles with Kenny Ladler on top with 35 and Javon Marshall at 33. Ladler nabbed his first interception of the season last week against UAB. Sophomore linebacker Darreon Herring had an interception that led to a Vanderbilt touchdown.
The cornerbacks are locked down by All-SEC candidate Andre Hal and Steven Clarke. Hal leads the pair with 22 tackles, including 1½ for a loss, and a team high seven passes defended. Clarke has 12 tackles, two passes defended, and returned an interception for 69 yards against the Gamecocks.
VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
Last season against the 'Dores junior running Marcus Murphy was injured on the fifth play from scrimmage and left with a hand injury. Murphy is second on the team averaging 7.2 yards per carry with four rushing touchdown.
Junior Henry Josey is the listed starter and leads the trio with 40 carries for 238 yards rushing, with four rushing touchdowns. Josey averages 59.5 yards per game and has three receptions for 17 yards receiving.
Nose tackle Barron Dixon was impressive in the win against UAB. The junior more than doubled his tackle total this season (11) while setting a career high six tackles, and notching his first career sack. Defensive end Kyle Woestmann leads the defensive line with 20 tackles, including three for a loss, 2½ sacks, and two quarterback hurries.
Sophomore defensive end Caleb Azubike leads the team with two sacks and is tied for first with four tackles for a loss. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Adam Butler has tallied 15 tackles, including four for a loss, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble.
Sophomore outside linebacker Darreon Herring leads the linebacker group with 30 tackles, a sack, an interception, five passes defended, and a quarterback hurry. Next to him at middle linebacker is fellow sophomore Jake Sealand who is forth on the team with 23 tackles.
Senior outside linebacker Karl Butler did not play in the last two contests against UMass and UAB but is listed as the possible starter with redshirt sophomore Larry Franklin for Mizzou.
Sophomore punter Taylor Hudson has been outstanding for the 'Dores averaging 45.1 yards per punt. Hudson has a season long punt of 75 yards and has pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line eight times this season, with five punts of 50 yards or more.v True freshman Darrius Sims has handled kickoff returns for Vanderbilt averaging 22.9 yards per return. Sims had a career high 42-yard kick return last week against UAB. Over the last two games Sims has averaged 26 yards per return.
Punt returner Jonathan Krause averages 3.8 yards per punt return with a season high of 18 yards.
Missouri punter Christian Brinse ranks sixth in the SEC averaging 43.64 yards per punt. The junior has pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line five times, with a season long punt of 59 yards.
Tiger place kicker Andrew Baggett has connected on three of six field goal attempts, with a season long of 43 yards. The sophomore has missed his last two field goal attempts from 39 and 24 yards out.
Marcus Murphy handles kick and punt returns for the Tigers. The junior averages 5.2 yards per punt return, and 21.4 yards per kick return. Murphy's longest return this season was a 28-yard kickoff return.
Vanderbilt leads the conference in fourth-down conversion attempts converting 85.71 percent of the time. The Commodores are seventh in the conference converting 27 of 62 third-down conversion attempts.
In red zone efficiency the 'Dores rank fifth in the SEC, scoring in 83.33 percent of red zone trips. Vanderbilt has reached the end zone in 75 percent of red zone visits, ranking second behind Texas A&M.
Missouri has forced a turnover in 34 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the country. The Tigers have the third best turnover margin in the SEC, averaging one positive takeaway per game.
The Tigers rank second in the conference in third-down efficiency, converting 57.41 percent of attempts. On fourth-down the Tigers have converted two of three attempts.
Mizzou ranks eighth in the conference scoring in 19 of 23 red zone visits. The Tigers are slightly trailing Vanderbilt scoring touchdowns in 73.91 percent of red zone visits.
With such a grueling schedule that also includes SEC West opponents Texas A&M and Ole Miss, the Tigers may be hard pressed to find the two wins required to become bowl eligible. This game is just as important, if not more important for Mizzou's bowl eligibility as they also have to face Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, over their next seven games.
Last week's 52-24 win over UAB was the first time the Vanderbilt offense has produced a 300-yard passer (Austyn Carta-Samuels 334 yards passing), 100-yard rusher (Jerron Seymour 107 yards rushing), and two 100-yard receivers (Jordan Matthews 115 yards receiving and Jonathan Krause 108 yards receiving) in a game. Carta-Samuels, Seymour and Krause set new single game career highs in the victory. This was definitely the best win the 'Dores have had all season. The new burst of life came just in time before a critical game against the Tigers. Following the Missouri game Vanderbilt will an extremely helpful bye week to prepare for a visit from Georgia.
In last week's 41-19 victory over Arkansas State, head coach Gary Pinkel won his 94th game as Mizzou's head coach. Pinkel moved into sole possession of No. 2 in Missouri's history with 94 wins. Pinkel is seven wins shy of tying the record set by Don Faurot (1935-42, 1946-56).
Pinkel is currently the eighth-winningest active coach in FBS with a 167-98 win-loss ratio, winning .629 percent of games over his coaching career at Toledo and then Missouri.
PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 31, Missouri 27.