1. Vanderbilt’s panic vs. Missouri’s momentum
To be frank, the Commodores are in disarray. Blowout losses to Mississippi and UNLV in their last two games are scathing results. Now as the team heads into the meat of its Southeastern Conference schedule, it faces a resurgent Missouri squad that has won its last five games. Vanderbilt’s only win this season was by less than a touchdown to Northern Illinois. The Tigers haven’t lost since August. As these two teams meet in an SEC East matchup, does Missouri continue its hot streak and get out of Nashville with not only a win, but without much pushback? Or does Vanderbilt finally find some consistency this season and make things difficult?
Edge: Missouri’s momentum
2. Missouri’s run defense vs. Ke’Shawn Vaughn
Missour coach Barry Odom called Vaughn “one of the best running backs in college football” during his weekly media availability. Vaughn was the SEC newcomer of the year in 2018. Vaughn has 102 carries this season for 607 yards and five touchdowns. Missouri’s defense has only allowed 108 rushing yards per game. During a four-game stretch between the contests against Wyoming and Mississippi, the Tigers gave up only 37 rushing yards per contest to vault them into the top five of rush defenses nationally. Does Vaughn find a route for the Commodores to break open MU’s defense? Or does Missouri contain one of the most dynamic playmakers in the SEC?
Edge: Ke’Shawn Vaughn
3. Kalija Lipscomb vs. MU wide receivers
This matchup will never be on the field at the same time, but it represents one of the biggest differences between Vanderbilt and Missouri. The Commodores have made it no secret: Lipscomb is their clear No. 1 wide receiver. The Tigers have four wideouts, not to mention tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who could make a legitimate argument that they’re Kelly Bryant’s preferred target. All of them provide a different skill set and will challenge Vanderbilt’s defense in different ways. Which will prove to be more effective — the one-man band of Lipscomb or MU's stable of wide receivers?
Edge: MU wide receivers
4. MU traveling fans vs. Nashville fans
It’s Vanderbilt’s homecoming. The Commodores have the same chance to be sparked by a crowd like Missouri had with the stands filled to capacity last week at Faurot Field. Nashville is a hotbed for travel and could see an uptick in foot traffic with Vanderbilt alumni coming back to The Music City. Nashville also isn’t that complicated of a six-hour drive from Columbia. Just travel to Illinois, make a quick pit stop in Kentucky, and Nashville is a short distance away. It’s the first sensible drive for a road trip of the season, so how many Missouri fans make the trek? Or do the in-town fans truly make it an adverse atmosphere for the Tigers?
Edge: Nashville football fans
5. Derek Mason vs. Barry Odom
This is the fourth season where this will be the head-coaching showdown for this matchup as Mason took the Commodores helm in place of current Penn State head coach James Franklin in 2014, while Odom took over for Gary Pinkel after the 2015 season. How does each head coach make a difference in the game? Odom has shown the proper restraint over the last several weeks because of the competition Missouri has played. Is this the week he unleashes the full playbook? Does Vanderbilt change a lot up from the sidelines to give its team a jump?
Edge: Barry Odom