Kentucky Vs. Vanderbilt Preview: Fighting For Birmingham

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Vanderbilt Commodores, 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC Network

One way to look at this is as part of a three-team race to avoid last place in the SEC East. Over the next few weeks, Kentucky and Vanderbilt and Tennessee will all play each other and presumably break the tie over who is the worst team in the worst division in the SEC.

Or you could look at it as part of a race to be the last bowl-eligible team(s) in the SEC. More so for Kentucky than for Vanderbilt; the Commodores have two winnable games left on the schedule (Tennessee and Wake Forest on the road), while Kentucky arguably has just one (a home game against Tennessee after next week's tilt with Georgia).

It's also an interesting case study of sorts. James Franklin has at least projected the image of a Vanderbilt that's getting better at football and boxing. Kentucky's Joker Phillips is under incredible pressure to show progress in his second season taking over from Rich Brooks, and a win over Ole Miss but nothing else wasn't exactly what the Lexington faithful had in mind; failing to make the postseason this year would break a streak dating back to 2006.

The problem for Kentucky is that they really do nothing well. Well, that's not entirely true -- Kentucky is very good at punting the ball; they rank second in the SEC in net punting. That is literally the only statistical category where they rank better than eighth in the SEC, with only three more where they rank better than 10th.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, is at least mediocre in several categories. The Commodores are minimally competent at running the ball and on defense. That might not be enough to win them any awards, but it's enough to keep their bowl hopes alive for another week.

Vanderbilt 24, Kentucky 7

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