Vanderbilt vs. Missouri: Why This Is a Make-or-Break Game for the Commodores

Chad MintonCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 07:  Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels #6 of the Vanderbilt Commodores rushes against the Austin Peay Governors at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

With the college football season rolling right along, we still have yet to learn that much about the Vanderbilt Commodores other than they're once again a competitive team that can hang with pretty much anyone.

A few convincing nonconference wins and a tough season-opening loss to Ole Miss is all we really have to go on right now for the Commodores as they sit at 3-2.

A win over Missouri this week could teach us that this team is in fact for real and that last season was no fluke when it strung together seven consecutive wins to finish 9-4.

The Commodores are also getting ready to enter a rough spot in their schedule that has matchups against ranked opponents Georgia, Texas A&M and Florida.

If the Commodores drop this game against the high-potent offense of Missouri, then it could mean that a rude awakening is in store for a team that has high aspirations.

After going though the toughest part of their schedule, the Commodores still have a tough road contest with Tennessee left on the schedule. That would put them on the fringe of missing a bowl game entering that game, and it would fuel the fire even more about whether or not head coach James Franklin is going to stay with Vanderbilt or go for another more glamorous coaching position.

Even if the Commodores may be a slightly better team than Tennessee at this moment, they still don't want to go into Knoxville needing a win to get bowl eligible.

On the flip side, a win over Missouri puts the Commodores in great shape to build their confidence and be in good position to lock up another bowl berth under Franklin.

Bowl appearances are major for a program that is trying to build a new foundation like the Commodores are.

The Commodores defense will be tested greatly in this game with Missouri, a team that is ninth in the nation in points per game.

It's also somewhat of a revenge game for Missouri as it lost at home to Vanderbilt last season in a very close contest in sloppy weather conditions.

The Commodores will counter with a strong offensive attack of their own that's led by quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, who is getting better by the week.

This is a very winnable game for the Commodores at home. It's a matter of if they're ready to deal with the pressure that comes with being a successful SEC football program. 

A win here over Missouri will keep that positive momentum rolling for this program, but a loss will almost certainly force it to get a major upset on the remaining schedule to keep that momentum going.