Breaks A Long Losing Streak
Before Saturday the last time Vanderbilt won a Southeastern Conference game was October 19, 2019, when they beat Missouri 21-14. Our world’s changed a lot since then as a thing called COVID-19 would change our lives completely. However, on a cold, miserable and snowy day in Lexington Clark Lea’s squad finally broke through. Let’s look at a great day for Vandy and a no-good, horrible, very bad day for Mark Stoops as Vanderbilt beats Kentucky 24-21.
An Utterly Frustrating First Half
For anyone who’s followed the Wildcats, they’ve had their struggles in the first half this year. Unfortunately, Saturday was no exception. A Will Sheppard fumble set the Cats up with great field position at the Vandy 29. However, UK gained no yards in three plays and settled for a field goal attempt. Matt Ruffolo hit from 47 and it was 3-0 Cats.
It only took the Commodores three plays to get the lead with the last 59 yards coming on a run by quarterback Mike Wright. On Kentucky’s next possession they got it all the way down to the Vanderbilt nine-yard line before stalling. A 27-yard field goal by Ruffolo cut the lead to one. Once again the Cats got nothing out a Wright interception as a field goal was blocked. We headed into the half with Vandy up 7-6 and UK fans feeling frustrated.
Vanderbilt's scoring defense ranks last in the SEC, allowing 36.8 points per game.
Kentucky is +2 in turnovers, had 3 drives go inside the 30 and only 6 points at halftime.
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) November 12, 2022
Back And Forth
Kentucky went three and out on its first second-half possession. Vanderbilt got the ball on their own 19 then marched 81 yards for the score. Ray Davis did most of the work and took it from a yard out to put the Commodores up 14-6. Another Ruffolo field goal made it 14-9 and after stopping Vandy on downs the Cats finally remembered Chris Rodriguez. If you read our game preview we said to look for Rodriguez to have a big game. He along with JuThan McClain got the Wildcats down to the five-yard line. Rodriguez took in it putting the Cats up by one. The two-point attempt failed and it was 15-14.
Vandy took the lead on the next possession on a 27-yard field goal by Joseph Bulovas. It took the Cats one play to go back in front at Rodriguez went 72 yards to go up 21-17. For the game, Rodriguez finished with 162 yards and two touchdowns. The two-point attempt failed and if we’re being honest the play calling on both plays was questionable at best.
With five minutes to go, Vanderbilt had plenty of time to score and they did. On a fourth and 11 from the Kentucky 49-yard line, Wright hit Quincy Skinner for 40 yards and they were in business. Three plays later Wright to Sheppard for eight yards gave Vandy the lead and a two-point conversion gave them a three-point lead. Kentucky’s last chance ended with a Levis interception as Vanderbilt beats Kentucky 24-21.
With the loss, Kentucky drops to 6-4 on the season and 3-4 in the SEC. They blew a chance to finish at .500 or better in the league for the fifth time in Stoops’ 1o years in Lexington. In addition, their chances of playing in a Florida bowl game are pretty much over.
It doesn’t get any easier next week for the Wildcats. While many teams have their “cupcake Saturday” that’s not the case for the Wildcats. They’ll host the Georgia Bulldogs in hopes of breaking a 12-game losing streak to the defending national champions.
On the other side of the ball, the Commodores improve to 4-6 overall and 1-5 in the SEC. They’ll go for two in a row when they host Florida.
It’s hard to believe that back on October 1st this Kentucky team was 4-0 and ranked seventh in the country. Since then they’ve lost four of six and the offensive woes around this team continue to get worse.
They have a consensus first-round quarterback, one of the best running backs in the SEC, and some of the best receivers the school’s ever had. Instead, Levis threw for only 109 yards, no touchdowns and an interception against a pass defense ranked next to last in all of college football. A lot of the blame goes to offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello but the offensive line has struggled all year. Yes, they lost a lot from 2021 but with the players they are bringing in there’s no excuse for how Zach Yenser’s group has played.
Vanderbilt’s come close during this losing streak and today they broke through. Give them all the credit in the world for getting a win. They dominated the game and deserved the victory. Over the last few years, Kentucky has owned the so-called “bottom half” of the SEC East. That’s not been the case this year as the program’s definitely fallen back.
Kentucky has now allowed South Carolina and Shane Beamer and Vanderbilt and Clark Lea to come into Lexington and get signature, momentum building, potentially program changing wins at their expense. Gotta take a lotta long looks in the 🪞#BBN
— Vinny Hardy (@VinnyHardy) November 12, 2022
Again Vanderbilt beats Kentucky 24-21 to break a 26-game SEC losing streak. Thanks for checking out our recap here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back with updated bowl projections and a Georgia preview.