KENTUCKY WILDCATS VS. VANDERBILT COMMODORES
RANKINGS: Kentucky (88th S&P+) | Vanderbilt (70th S&P+)
RECORDS: Kentucky (6-3, 3-3 SEC) | Vanderbilt (4-5, 0-5 SEC)
TIME: 3 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
WATCH ONLINE: WatchESPN
SPREAD: Vanderbilt opened as 3-point faves. The line is down at 2.
O/U: The total started at 54.5. It’s now down to 52.5-53.
RECORDS ATS: Kentucky (2-7 ATS) | Vanderbilt (3-5-1 ATS)
The first meeting between Vandy and Kentucky was all the way back on October 14, 1916. On that day, Vanderbilt shut Kentucky out 45-0. The funnest of facts is that UK took until 1921 to score a point against Vandy, who outscored them 103-0 in the first five matchups. That includes a 0-0 tie that took place on November 1, 1919.
They have been meeting annually since 1937, the fifth year of the SEC’s life.
The all-time series is led by the Wildcats, who own a 43-36-4 advantage over the Commodores. The two teams have traded wins and losses for the last three seasons. Kentucky stopped a three-game losing streak in 2014 to the Wildcats, and have won two of the last three.
Since the year 2000, the series leans toward UK, who’ve won 10 of the 17 games played.
Vanderbilt finally got some good news last week, winning 31-17 over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Commodores were mired in a five-game losing streak that started with a 59-0 drubbing by the Alabama Crimson Tide. Losses to Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss and Soth Carolina have put the ‘Dores in an 0-5 hole in SEC play. At 4-5, they’ll have to piece together at least two wins in their next three to try and become bowl eligible.
Standing in their way of doing that in the interim are the Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky was flying pretty high. They were 5-1 before Mississippi State bulldozed them 45-7 in Starkville. A win over Tennessee made them bowl eligible, but last week’s last-second loss to Ole Miss put a damper on things, to say the least. The Wildcats have hardly a thing to worry about for the postseason, but they certainly don’t want their vibes killed.
Kentucky’s passing attack will have a tough test ahead of them in Nashville. Vanderbilt posts the 11th-best S&P+ pass defense and 15th-best as far as Pass Success Rate goes. Stephen Johnson has been pretty solid, but his 6.2 yards per attempt might not be enough against Ladarius Wiley, Ryan White and Joejuan Williams. Watch out for linebacker Charles Wright, too. Wright has eight sacks on the season, by far the most on the Commodore defense.
That isn’t to say that Kyle Shurmur shouldn’t worry about someone bearing down on him, either. He should. Denzil Ware and Josh Allen are two fierce linebackers on the Wildcats, who’ve had a penchant for getting to the QB. Allen has a team-high seven sacks this season while Ware has posted 4.5 himself. The two also have a combined 18 TFL, with Allen racking up 10.5 on his own. The junior in Allen also has three PBU and six run stuffs, so he’s just something of a force when he’s on the field.
What Happens Here?
I really don’t know what to make of this game, because I don’t know what to make of these two teams. Vanderbilt is in full SOS mode, while Kentucky has been so topsy-turvy. I will, unconfidently, take Vandy to cover.
Vanderbilt 27, Kentucky 21