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Missouri football coach Barry Odom has led the Tigers to four straight victories after they started the season 1-5. Missouri plays at Vanderbilt on Saturday.

He is the Nostradamus of the 2017 Southeastern Conference football season, but second-year Missouri coach Barry Odom doesn't want to be viewed that way.

Minutes after a 51-14 home loss to Auburn on Sept. 23, Odom delivered an impassioned, three-minute opening statement in his news conference before any questions could be asked. The Tigers were 1-3 at the time and 0-3 against Football Bowl Subdivision opposition, having lost to South Carolina, Purdue and Auburn by the average score of 39-10.

"Let's talk real life and where we're at, all right?" Odom said. "I want to get one thing real straight: I'm going to win here, and that's going to happen. We will win. This is a turnaround. Anyway you want to slice it or dice it or want to look at it, this is a turnaround process, and unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I'm built for this, because I've been in a whole heck of a lot of them in my entire life."

The Tigers had an open date after Odom's eruption and then lost two much more competitive contests, falling 40-34 at Kentucky on the final play and 53-28 at No. 4 Georgia in a game that was 21-21 in the second quarter. Missouri was 1-5 at that point but has since been ablaze, demolishing Idaho 68-21, Connecticut 52-12, Florida 45-16 and Tennessee 50-17 to reach the .500 mark entering this week's trip to Vanderbilt.

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So what kind of impact did Odom's speech have in terms of vaulting the Tigers from the league's worst team to the brink of bowl eligibility?

"I would say within our locker room, probably zero," Odom said Wednesday. "Our kids have seen that side of me often, so that wasn't unique for them. It was unique for them to see it publicly. We've made some personnel changes, and our guys have done a great job of investing throughout the week and preparing the right way.

"Then it comes down to executing on game day and playing with confidence."

Missouri's offense looks completely different since September, with the Tigers leading the league with an average of 501.6 yards a game and ranking second behind Alabama with 37.9 points per contest. Missouri junior quarterback Drew Lock leads the SEC with 3,012 passing yards and has an eye-popping 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The tailback trio of Ish Witter, Larry Roundtree III and Damarea Crockett have combined for 1,725 yards, with each averaging at least 6 yards per carry.

"I think they've been able to get back to the middle and find themselves," Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said of the Tigers. "They played Idaho and UConn and were able to build some confidence, and then they played a Florida team that had just been hit with some news and picked them apart. They went right at them and looked like the football team that they probably expected to be at the beginning of the year.

"They beat a Tennessee team that has found itself in a rough patch, and now they're coming to Nashville to play a team that has sort of lost its way a little bit."

In late September, Odom said, "This is a turnaround process that is not going to be easy," but it sure has looked easy in recent weeks.

"There is not anything easy about this job or any job," he said Wednesday. "We've got a lot of football left to play and a lot of room for growing. We can be a much better football team than how we're playing right now."

Pasquali's Pix

Mercer at Alabama: This is the first meeting between these two since 1940, when Alabama standout punter JK Scott was a freshman. Crimson Tide 48, Bears 7.

Other picks

Mississippi State 28, Arkansas 19

Florida 17, Alabama-Birmingham 16

South Carolina 33, Wofford 22

MTSU 31, Western Kentucky 24

Memphis 35, SMU 28

Miami 22, Virginia 13

Wisconsin 20, Michigan 17

TCU 26, Texas Tech 21

Florida State 49, Delaware State 10

Clemson 44, The Citadel 15

North Carolina 42, Western Carolina 9

Notre Dame 29, Navy 14

Oklahoma 45, Kansas 26

Central Florida 30, Temple 23

Ohio State 48, Illinois 11

Penn State 34, Nebraska 7

Southern Cal 23, UCLA 20

Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn: The Tigers have scored 40 or more points in all eight of their victories this season with the exception of, you guessed it, the win against Mercer. Tigers 41, Warhawks 16.

ETSU at UTC: The Mocs are looking to avoid their first season with no wins in Finley Stadium and their first season with no victories in Chattanooga since 1907. Mocs 30, Buccaneers 17.

Kentucky at Georgia: The Bulldogs have never swept their SEC East schedule since divisional play began in 1992 but could finish that quest Saturday. Bulldogs 31, Wildcats 16.

Georgia Tech at Duke: The Blue Devils would like to request a mulligan after their 4-0 start has been followed by six straight losses. Yellow Jackets 23, Blue Devils 20.

LSU at Tennessee: The Volunteers have lost 14 consecutive games against SEC West foes, with Derek Dooley responsible for five and Butch Jones nine. Tigers 33, Vols 20.

Missouri at Vanderbilt: We could be looking at a 7-5 Mizzou team that has a 32-point home loss to Purdue. Tigers 38, Commodores 23.

Texas A&M at Ole Miss: It should be an emotional time at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, with it being senior night and Tommy Tuberville providing the color commentary for ESPN. Aggies 42, Rebels 35.

Last week:

Winners.......................19

Grantham blitzes...........6

Pasquali is 218-57 overall (79.3 percent) this season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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