It's hard to think of two teams who have a relatively good shot of ending up right next to each other in the standings but who feel like they're going in completely opposite directions. Vanderbilt, after all, has seen its record lag to 1-3 after giving up 31 or more points in all four games and generally looking lackluster on offense and defense. (Special teams is another matter, as South Carolina can attest.) Kentucky, 2-1 against a slightly less intimidating slate, has generated optimism among its fans thanks to a couple of easy non-conference wins and a triple-overtime heartbreaker against Florida.
Of course, Vanderbilt is coming off of the heady James Franklin Era, when it seemed like the Commodores might finally be putting something sustainable together. And Kentucky is still digging out from the rubble of the Joker Phillips Era, which seemed to undo almost all the good that Rich Brooks' rebuilding efforts had done over the previous decade. With Mark Stoops now in his second year in Lexington, things seem to be starting to come together for the Wildcats; they seem to be unraveling for Vanderbilt.
The statistics do, to a greater or lesser extent, tell the tale. Vanderbilt ranks in the bottom half of the SEC in basically every major statistical category, and in or near the bottom third in a sizable number of them. Kentucky has at least showed some progress on the offensive side of the ball; its 6.8 yards per play is tied for sixth in the conference, which isn't great but is a lot better than the Wildcats would have been able to claim in other years. That production hasn't always led to points for the 'Cats, but it's there. If Kentucky can actually finish its drives -- the Wildcats have four touchdowns and are 4-of-6 on field goals on 10 trips inside the red zone -- then it could become an even more potent team. And there's no reason to think Vanderbilt can hang around very long, one way or the other.
Game time: Noon ET
TV: SEC Network
Live stream: WatchESPN
Brandon's prediction: Kentucky 34, Vanderbilt 14