Mizzou becomes bowl-eligible for first time since 2014

Joey Miller, 23 Sports

The Missouri Tigers defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday by a score of 45-17.

The start time was delayed by half an hour due to weather. After the brief delay, Mizzou had the ball first and quickly got on the board with a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. Vanderbilt would try to come back on their first drive of the game, but true freshman Adam Sparks picked off Vanderbilt junior Kyle Shurmur. These first few minutes would really set the tone of the game, favoring the now bowl-eligible Tigers.

Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur continued to have a poor night, with 3 interceptions, as well as giving up a pick-six to junior linebacker Brandon Lee in the second quarter. This wasn’t his fault entirely, as the Missouri defense was the true star of the game, with great coverage all game. Linebacker Cale Garrett had an incredible night, running right through the seemingly non-existent Vanderbilt offensive line.

The Commodores wouldn’t score until the second half with a goal-line rushing touchdown by senior Ralph Webb on their senior night in Nashville, Tennessee. Shurmur would get his first and only touchdown of the night in the same quarter with a 7-yard pass to a wide-open Caleb Scott, another senior who would try to make a dent in the already large deficit Vanderbilt had.

Coach Barry Odom continues to make his case to keep his job with Missouri, as with Mizzou’s third SEC win of the season and fifth consecutive win, the Tigers are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2014. The 2014 Tigers, led by Gary Pinkel won their second consecutive SEC East championship that season, with current Super Bowl champion linebacker Shane Ray being a prominent player in Pinkel’s dominant defense. This year, the Missouri defense seemed to not be getting anywhere close to what it used to be, but since the first half, Odom seems to have really lit a fire under the secondary who has shown immense improvement.

Junior quarterback of the Missouri Tigers, Drew Lock had another outstanding game, with 3 passing touchdowns and 235 passing yards. Albert Okwuegbunam was a hot target for Lock Saturday night, scoring 2 touchdowns and 116 yards.

The now 6-5 Mizzou will end their comeback season on another road trip to Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks in hopes of ending with a record over .500. Regardless of what happens in Arkansas, Barry Odom can sleep well knowing not only that his team is once again bowl-eligible for the first time in his time at head coach, but also that he has secured at least another year as Mizzou’s coach. At the halfway point in the season, he had a tight leash for his job on the line, but his team’s comeback has been truly remarkable since the 1-5 start.