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Missouri's quest for its first SEC win begins to look harder and harder as the season moves along
Despite the low-scoring nature of the game early on, no one was going to mistake Vanderbilt's tilt with Missouri as the Game of the Century. But with Alabama heading to Columbia next week, it was the best chance for the Tigers to get an SEC win before they dropped to 0-4 in the conference.
Nothing doing. Vanderbilt pulled off a classic Commodores special, getting the upset on the road despite being outgained by 100 yards and getting no advantage from an even turnover margin. And in the process, they knocked James Franklin -- the Missouri quarterback, not the Vanderbilt coach -- out of the game in a development that could be even more ominous for Mizzou's continuing search for an SEC win.
Because Vanderbilt also made it pretty clear that Corbin Berkstresser isn't going to be able to step in and be ready for SEC defenses from the word "go." Berkstresser was 9-of-30 on the game for 189 yards and a touchdown. If that's what his stat line looks like against the Vanderbilt defense -- well, we did mention that Alabama is up next on the schedule, right?
Zac Stacy powered Vanderbilt to the win, running for 72 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries and also completing a 24-yard pass. And Jordan Rodgers had pretty much the sort of solid-but-not-spectacular day we've come to expect from him, completing 14 of 24 passes for 182 yards and a pick. The win goes a long way toward putting a bowl game back within reach for the Commodores, who have games against Auburn, against UMass, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss and at Wake Forest sprinkled in among the tougher fare.
But Missouri is in worse shape, still searching for a conference win after the first half of its season. Kentucky in two weeks is certainly the likeliest candidate, but things get far gloomier if the Tigers can't take down the Cats. The easiest games after that might be the trips to Knoxville and College Station, and those wouldn't be more than long shots if Missouri can't defeat Kentucky. In fact, given the difficulty of what's left on the schedule, Missouri might have to win the game against the Wildcats to be certain of winning any SEC game at all.