Having avoided disaster with a 21-16 win on the road against a solid Central Florida team, now it is time for Missouri to generate some momentum.
Positive momentum has been tough to find so far this season for Missouri (3-2, 0-2 in Southeastern Conference play), with two games against teams currently ranked in top six, offensive line struggles and an injury for the starting quarterback. But the come-from-behind win over Central Florida was a start.
Missouri needed this one. UCF dominated the first half, running all over the Tigers. But Missouri only trailed 10-7 at the half, thanks to a great defensive stand at the end of the first half.
That set the tone for the second half, during which Missouri gradually took control of the game and then held on, forcing a fumble at the end to seal the win. Missouri threw the ball downfield more, including a long touchdown to highly touted freshman Dorial Green-Beckham. Yes, Missouri, still had issues protecting quarterback James Franklin, but this time that didn’t keep the Tigers from attacking downfield anyway.
As for generating momentum starting with this win, Missouri now plays all three of its October games at home, with a bye week Oct. 20.
Two of the October home games are against historic SEC punching bags Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The other one, ahem, is against No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 13. If Vandy and Kentucky are the punching bags, Alabama is the angry-looking boxer delivering the blows to the punching bag. But the upside with a game like that is Missouri will have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Simply playing Alabama will generate a lot of attention for Missouri.
Going 2-1 in these three games would put Missouri at 5-3 heading into November. But while Missouri started the week favored by about a touchdown against Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2 in SEC play), the Commodores are not a gimme.
Yes, Vanderbilt is 3-23 in SEC play since the start of the 2009 season, but second-year coach James Franklin, no relation to the Missouri quarterback of the same name, has been trying to make the Commodores competitive. In 2010, Vanderbilt was outgained by 245.4 yards per game against SEC opponents. But last year, Franklin’s first year, Vanderbilt was only outgained by 28.5 yards per game in SEC play and made a bowl game, just its second bowl game since 1982.
Like Mizzou, Vanderbilt’s SEC losses were to South Carolina and Georgia, and the other loss was at currently undefeated Northwestern. So while Vandy has not accomplished much this year, they have played a tough early schedule and are coming off a bye. Especially at home, Missouri should win, but again, Vanderbilt is not a layup.
A second straight win would be a great way to begin October, the heart of the college football season.
Show-Me State native Mark Twain, once said, “Missouri is at her best in October.”
With all home games, including the two easiest SEC games on the schedule, Missouri fans can hope their team will be at its best as well. Enjoy this month, before the chill and three SEC road games of November arrive.