The Missouri Tigers have raced out to a 4-0 start this season, and they have done it with offense. This is the type of performance that many expected when the Tigers joined the Southeastern Conference last season. However, injuries, poor play and SEC defenses never allowed the Tigers to get in an offensive rhythm.
That has all changed this year. Missouri is second in the conference and eighth in the country in scoring offense (45.5 points per game) and third in the conference and eighth in the country in total offense (549 yards per game).
Quarterback James Franklin has reverted back to the form of his sophomore season, when he was outstanding. Franklin is third in the conference and 10th in the country in total offense (336 yards per game). The only SEC players he trails are Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies and Aaron Murray of the Georgia Bulldogs.
However, while things may be looking up in Columbia, the real test for the Tigers begins this week. To this point, Missouri has played Murray State, Toledo, the Indiana Hoosiers and Arkansas State. The competition level is about to take a step up when Missouri visits the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday in Nashville.
While Vanderbilt is not one of the best teams in the SEC, the Commodores are clearly the best team Missouri will face in its first five games. And if Missouri can win on the road, in the conference, that would be a huge boost for Gary Pinkel and his team.
While Missouri’s 4-0 start is great, the realists among the Tiger faithful are trying to find two more wins on the schedule, so that Mizzou can go bowling again this season. They figure to beat the Kentucky Wildcats in November, so they need to beat either Vanderbilt or the Tennessee Volunteers for bowl eligibility. Pinkel and his team can take care of one of those on Saturday night, if they continue their torrid offensive pace.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher, on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.