COLUMBIA — Will the third time be a charm for the Missouri football team?
On Saturday, Missouri plays its third Southeastern Conference game. The Tigers are looking for their first SEC win after dropping September contests to Georgia and South Carolina.
Unlike in Missouri's first two games, the Tigers are the favorite to win Saturday's match-up against Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt (1-3) has won just one game this season (against Presbyterian).
When the Tigers take the field, their line-up will look a bit different than it has in recent weeks. The Tigers will be without highly touted freshman wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who was suspended one game after being arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana. Green-Beckham made highlight reels with his first career touchdown last weekend. (See the video below.)
Four other players, two of whom were arrested along with Green-Beckham, were also suspended for one game.
Missouri will, however, get starting offensive tackle Elvis Fisher back for Saturday's game. Fisher, a sixth-year senior, has missed the last three games with a knee injury. Linebacker Zaviar Gooden is also expected to be back, and offensive lineman Jack Meiners could return as well.
Missouri's offense has struggled the past two weeks, but Vahe Gregorian of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the team showed some flashes of how it can be successful during last week's win against Central Florida.
Vanderbilt tries to climb in SEC ranks
The SEC is home to some of the top programs in college football, but Vanderbilt is not one of them. The Commodores have had just five winning seasons since 1959 and have been to just four bowl games in that span.
As Stu Durando of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains, Vanderbilt, the only private school in the conference, has to find ways to keep up with the big-spending state universities.
The Commodores have been fairly successful under second-year coach James Franklin. (Yes, he has the same name as Missouri's starting quarterback.) Franklin took Vanderbilt to a bowl game in his first season last year.
Franklin's team has also played better this season than its 1-3 record might suggest. All three losses came to teams that are currently ranked in the Top 25 (South Carolina, Northwestern and Georgia). Two came by 10 points or less.
Vanderbilt's starting quarterback, Jordan Rodgers, is the brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who won the NFL MVP award last season.
Missouri and Vanderbilt have not played each other in football since 1958, when the Commodores won 12-8.
Important games in SEC East on Saturday
Missouri and Vanderbilt both sit at 0-2 in the SEC, well out of the race for the East division title. But two games Saturday will be important in deciding who wins the division.
Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are tied for the division lead with undefeated records, and all three are ranked in the Top 10.
No. 10 Florida hosts No. 4 LSU at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS. No. 5 Georgia and No.6 South Carolina face off at 6 p.m. in Columbia, S.C., on ESPN.
Supervising editor is Frank Russell.