HEAD TO HEAD: VANDERBILT VS. MISSOURI

Vanderbilt meets Missouri on Saturday in Columbia, Missouri. VandyMania.com's Don Yates compares the two teams in several critical areas. He also makes a prediction on the game's final score.

Vanderbilt PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
Missouri PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: MISSOURI
REMARKS: The Vanderbilt Commodores are ranked 114th nationally and last in the SEC averaging 160 yards per game through the air. QB Johnny McCrary got a second chance against Charleston Southern last week and made the best of it. He tossed a 65-yard scoring pass to C.J. Duncan and finished with a solid 10 for 16 passing performance for 169 yards and the TD. He will likely start on Saturday as both Stephen Rivers and Patton Robinette are still not healthy enough to play. C.J. Duncan (20 catches, 2 TDs) has surpassed tight end Steven Scheu (19 catches, 1 TD) as Vandy's leading receiver. Latevius Rayford has 15 catches. Commodore blockers have given up 13 sacks so far this season.

Missouri ranked 42nd nationally (8th SEC) allowing an average of 214 yards per game passing. The Tiger's Braylon Webb has three interceptions this season to lead his team. Last week at Florida Braylon had a pair of picks. Missouri has intercepted a total of eight passes this season. Defensive lineman Shane Ray, considered one of the top NFL prospects in the SEC, has 10 sacks on the season. Missouri has sacked opposing quarterbacks 26 times this season.

VANDERBILT RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
MISSOURI RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: MISSOURI
REMARKS: Vandy's rushing attack ranks 113th in the nation (13th SEC) averaging 111 yards per game. Ralph Webb is the top Commodore rusher with 560 yards on 122 carries for two TDs. He picked up 56 yards in 15 carries on the win over Charleston Southern two weeks ago but didn't seem himself. Dallas Rivers (106 yards, 26 carries) ran for 47 yards on 11 carries in the win over CSU including some big runs late to help Vandy run the clock out. Jerron Seymour (23 carries, 121 yards) was suspended for the CSU game but is expected to return for Missouri.

The Tigers are ranked 57th nationally (8th SEC) at stopping the run allowing 153 yards per game. Last week Mizzou held the Gators to 135 yards on 48 rushes (2.8 YPC). Linebacker Michael Scherer leads the Tigers in tackles with 65.

MISSOURI PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Missouri ranks 109th nationally (12th SEC) in passing gaining an average of 175 yards a game. Maty Mauk leads the Tiger passing attack. He's connected on 104 of 198 passes for 1,227 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Bud Sasser leads all Missouri receivers with 35 catches for 477 yards and four TDs. Jimmie Hunt (19 catches, 5 TDs) and Darius White (17 catches, 3 TDs) are the Tiger's other top receivers. Missouri blockers have given up 11 sacks this season. Last week at Missouri the Tigers completed just 6-of-18 passes for 20 yards.

Vandy ranks 74th in the nation (12th SEC) at stopping the pass (160 YPG). Vandy has intercepted one pass in each of the past three games for a total of three picks on the season. Vandy defensive end Caleb Azubike leads the team in sacks with four but hasn't had one in the past three games.

MISSOURI RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Missouri ranked 85th (12th SEC) in the nation at running the ball, averaging 148 yards per game. Russell Hansbrough is the Tiger's top rusher gaining 485 yards on 88 carries (5.5 YPC, 6 TDs). Marcus Murphy (79 rushes, 374 yards) is also heavily used by the Tigers. Both are 5-feet-9, 190 pounds and either could be the starter on Saturday. In the 42-13 win over Florida the Tigers managed just 99 yards on the ground in 31 carries (3.2 YPG).

Vandy is 84th in the nation (12th SEC) at stopping the run allowing an average of 178 yards per contest. Middle linebacker Nigel Bowden leads the Commodores in tackles with 54. Cornerback Torren McGaster is second on the team with 37 stops including 25 solos.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's Colby Cooke has been solid punting, averaging 43 yards per boot. He had his longest punt of the season against Charleston Southern, blasting one 68 yards. He did have a punt blocked but that was because of a missed blocking assignment. Tommy Openshaw has connected on 6-of-8 field goals for the 'Dores with a long of 42 yards. Darrius Sims is ranked No. 1 in the SEC in kickoff returns averaging over 30 yards per return. He returned two for TDs a few weeks ago against South Carolina. Opponents have been reluctant to kick to him since. Vanderbilt's kick/punt coverage teams have been somewhat solid but the 'Dores did give up a non-scoring 74-yard kickoff return against UMass. Vanderbilt has had both a field goal and punt blocked this season.

Christian Brinser averages 43 yards per punt for Mizzou with a long of 59 yards. Andrew Baggett, like Tommy Openshaw, has made 6-of-8 field goals with a long of 44. Mizzou has its own Darrius Sims type of player. Marcus Murphy has returned two kickoffs for TDs with a long of 100 yards. Murphy has also returned a punt for a one score. The Tigers have solid kick/punt return coverage teams.

COACHING
EDGE: MISSOURI
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's Derek Mason is in his first season as a head coach and has led the 'Dores to an 2-5 record. He won his first college victory against UMass earlier in the season. In 2012 Mason was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach, after directing a defense that ranks among the best in the nation and finest in Stanford history. Mason has some NFL coaching experience serving stints with the Vikings, Raiders, Giants and Rams.

Gary Pinkel is in his 14th season at Missouri and has compiled a record of 106-65. Last season Pinkel led the Tigers to a 12-2 record and a berth in the SEC Championship game where Mizzou lost a close on to eventual national runner up Auburn. Pinkel also previously coached at Toledo and has an overall college record of 179-102-3. He was selected the 2007 FieldTurf National Coach of the Year and 2007 Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year. He also was a finalist for Robinson, Bryant and Munger Awards in 2007.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: MISSOURI
REMARKS: Vandy trails 2-3-1 in the all-time series with Mizzou. Last season the Commodores lost to the Tigers in Nashville 51-28. Vanderbilt won its last game at Missouri (2012), 19-15. Vandy is Missouri's homecoming opponent this season. Missouri is 23rd nationally in turnover margin (+0.71). Vanderbilt is 109th in that category (-0.86). Vanderbilt had a bye week to prepare for the Tigers.

PREDICTION: Missouri 28, Vanderbilt 10.

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