COLUMBIA, Mo. - Missouri players have a lot of memories from last season's game against Vanderbilt. And most of them aren't pleasant.
When the Tigers open Southeastern Conference play today in Nashville against the Commodores (6:30 p.m. KQFX-TV), Missouri will be looking to enact a little revenge from last years' disappointing loss that prolonged the Tigers tough start to the season.
"Last year left a bad taste in our mouth and you want to get rid of that," center Evan Boehm said.
It was one of the toughest losses of the season for Missouri, and it hurt the Tigers in more ways than one.
The 19-15 loss wound up leaving Missouri one win shy of bowl eligibility. It dropped the Tigers to 0-3 in the league.
It also was the beginning of another injury situation for quarterback James Franklin. After leading the Tigers on a pair of early scoring drives, the Missouri (4-0) signal caller suffered a sprained MCL.
Franklin had to watch the final three quarters from the sideline as the Tigers muddled through the rest of the game on offense and never put up much of a fight.
Missouri actually outgained Vanderbilt by 100 yards, but most of Missouri's offense came with Franklin in the game.
"On the offensive side of the ball some of the guys were like, "Oh man, James is out,' and they kind of let that affect how they were playing," Franklin said. "Hopefully this year we won't have any of those issues. But as a whole we are a lot more positive."
Boehm blamed himself and the offensive line for the loss. Late in the game, the Commodores came up with a stop deep in their own territory to secure the win.
"I put some of that blame on the offensive line for not picking up those three blitzes, the same blitz they brought three times in a row," Boehm said. "I put that on the offensive line. We were banged up and young, but that's not an excuse we can use."
This game may be more of a shootout on offense. In four non-conference games against lesser competition, the Tigers put up big numbers. Franklin is throwing for 282 yards per game while the Tigers are averaging 549 yards per game, good for eighth nationally.
The Commodores (3-2 0-2 SEC) have been no slouch either as Austyn Carta-Samuels is averaging 244 yards per game with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.
The Wyoming transfer has the luxury of one of the SEC's top receivers in Jordan Matthews who is averaging 117 yards per game with four touchdowns. He was a first-team all-SEC selection a year ago.
"He's really an impact player," Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said. "They move him all over the field. They do a lot of different things with him. He's probably going to get his catches. I think you just contain him the best you can, obviously just eliminate big plays."
Matthews got his touches last season against Missouri as he finished with nine catches for 91 yards.
Franklin said he is not fueled any extra by last year's loss to Vanderbilt, but is focusing on trying to get another victory.
"We just want to go in and get the win so we can be 5-0," Franklin said.
Notes: Missouri last started out 5-0 in 2010. ... Vanderbilt's head coach is also named James Franklin. The series is tied 2-2-1. ... Vanderbilt lost its first two SEC games to Mississippi (39-35) and South Carolina (35-25). ... The Commodores own wins against Austin Peay (38-3). UMass (24-7) and UAB (52-24). Missouri is the last team to start SEC play.