Vanderbilt’s nightmare season is almost over. Following a three-year span of success under former coach James Franklin, the Commodores struggled under new coach Derek Mason.

In Week 1, Vanderbilt suffered a 37-7 loss to Temple. The Commodores lost six of their next nine games, including a 34-10 loss to Florida that ending their hopes of bowl eligibility.

Vanderbilt has two remaining games, Saturday’s matchup at No. 4 Mississippi State and a season finale against Tennessee the following week. The Commodores still have something to play for, despite their vanquished bowl dreams.

Vanderbilt must compete in its remaining games, despite facing tough matchups. The Commodores need to prove that they aren’t a doormat for opposing SEC teams, if not for themselves, at least for the sake of their coach.

Mason has faced criticism since Week 1. The first-year head coach did little to build optimism with a disappointing debut season. Win or lose, Vanderbilt will exceed expectations by staying close in either remaining game.

Mississippi State is on pace to make the College Football Playoff. The Commodores can capture a moral victory by looking competitive against one of the nation’s top teams.

The matchup with Tennessee is personal. Vanderbilt, who spent seasons as the “little brother” in the Volunteer State, holds a two-game winning streak over the Vols. The Commodores look to avoid falling back into that position and will play hard against Tennessee.

Ralph Webb has an individual stake in his team’s final two games. The tailback set the school freshman rushing record at 838 yards and is 162 yards away from reaching 1,000 yards. Webb can finish among the school’s all-time best rushing seasons with a strong finish.

Vanderbilt’s still has time to end its season on a high note. The Commodores must compete in their final two remaining games to build optimism during the beginning stages of their rebuilding process.