Previewing Vanderbilt at Kentucky

The Cats look to break a two game winning streak and build their bowl resume when they host Vanderbilt on Saturday.
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Previewing Vanderbilt at Kentucky

Cats Trying to Bounce Back

In a sea of cancellations, one SEC game that’s still on for Saturday is Vanderbilt and Kentucky. After two straight poor offensive showings, the Cats look to rebound against the winless Commodores. Can they find some momentum on that side of the ball and increase their bowl standing? Let’s find out as we begin previewing Vanderbilt at Kentucky.

Where’s the Offense?

In 2020 where there have been pinball-like numbers everywhere, only one SEC team has failed to get 200 yards of total offense in a game. The Kentucky Wildcats have done it twice. In fact, they’ve been under 300 yards in their last four contests. On the season Kentucky ranks 116th out of 123 schools in total offense with 294 yards per game and in passing offense with 118 yards a game. Both Terry Wilson and Joey Gatewood have struggled under center and other than Josh Ali they’ve gotten little from the wide receivers.

Heading into Saturday the biggest question is who is the starting quarterback, Gatewood or Wilson? For whatever reason, the Kentucky offense has seemed off this entire year. Do the Cats go with the incumbent or build for the future? Quite simply to win on Saturday they must find some offense. Stoops says Kentucky has made great strides during the bye week, however, results are needed on the field.

As we continue previewing Vanderbilt at Kentucky let’s now look at the visitors on Saturday.

Scouting the Commodores

Derek Mason’s team comes into Saturday with an 0-5 record. A week ago they rallied from down 21-0 before falling to Mississippi State 24-17. However, for the season they’ve only scored more than 20 points once and have been held under double figures twice. The offense is led by freshman quarterback Ken Seals. For the season he’s completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns. Although, he does have eight interceptions so that could bode well for a Kentucky defense that ranks second in the nation with 11 picks. In addition, Vandy ranks 116th in college football with a negative eight turnover margin.

Behind Seals is running back Keyon Brooks who has rushed for 253 yards and two scores in 2020. Further, he’s a big pass-catching threat with 20 receptions for 207 yards. Those stats came in only three games. Vandy likes to throw the ball and Seals’ major target is Cam Johnson. He currently ranks sixth in the SEC with 33 receptions. Also, he has 336 yards and one score. As mentioned earlier all three are coming off big games against Mississippi State.

On the other side of the ball, the Vandy defense is coming off a week where they held the Mississippi State rushing attack to -22 yards. That’s the best mark since 1996. Defensive back Jaylen Mahoney and safety Anfernee Orji lead the until with 33 and 32 tackles respectively. Though it’s not necessarily a good thing when your defensive backs are your leading tacklers. So far in 2020, the Commodores have given up over 40 points in three of their five games.

The Last Time These Two Met

A year ago in Nashville, the Commodores jumped out to an early 14-3 lead. However, the Cats rallied with 21 second-quarter points going on to a 38-14 victory.  Led by Christopher Rodriguez’s  129 yards and two touchdowns Kentucky had two players crack the century mark. In addition to Rodriguez, Lynn Bowden rushed for 110 yards and a score and also threw for 104 yards and another score. Kavosiey Smoke nearly got there rushing for 95. It was Kentucky’s largest margin of victory over Vandy since 2001.

Series History

Saturday’s contest marks the 93rd time Kentucky and Vanderbilt have met on the gridiron. Overall the Wildcats lead the series 46 wins to 42 and there have been four ties. In addition, Kentucky has won four in a row, this coming after the Commodores won four of the previous five. Kentucky’s longest streak of victories over an SEC opponent is also against Vandy as they won six straight from 1976-1981. The Wildcats could have tied that mark this season against Missouri but we all know how that one turned out.

Who Wins On Saturday?

As we finish up previewing Vanderbilt at Kentucky it’s prediction time. Over the last few years Stoops has won the games he’s needed to against what’s considered the lower half of the SEC East. They’ve won four straight against Vandy, and five of six against both Missouri and South Carolina.

As mentioned earlier Kentucky needs a win in order to boost their bowl resume. Currently, Last Word has the Wildcats playing Iowa in the Music City Bowl.  On paper, this is a game where Kentucky gets the offense back on track and you put it away early with the idea being of getting the younger guys some playing time. However long time UK fans know nothing is ever that easy.

Kentucky comes into the game as a 17 point favorite. The last time they were a double-digit favorite over an SEC school was against Vandy in 2018. That one turned out to be a hard-fought defensive game in which the Cats won 14-7. More than likely this game falls somewhere in between as Kentucky gets the win but not as commanding as the Big Blue Nation would hope.

Kentucky 24  Vanderbilt 10

Thanks for previewing Vanderbilt at Kentucky with us here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back after the game with a recap. In the meantime be sure to check out all the great content here on the site.


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