Vandy improved to 5-4 on the season with a dominant showing over an overmatched Kentucky team Saturday afternoon. The 'Dores showed off an improved offense as they marched towards a second straight bowl bid.
Jordan Rodgers passed for 220 yards and the Vanderbilt defense held tight as the Commodores recorded their first SEC shutout in 44 years on Saturday, routing Kentucky 40-0 in Lexington.
Vanderbilt hadn't scored more than 19 points in five conference games this season, but they eclipsed that mark in the second quarter alone behind Rodgers's steady hand. The senior quarterback kept drives alive by reaching out to his big targets Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd all day, exhausting a depleted Kentucky defense by controlling the time of possession.
The 'Dores used a balanced attack to put Kentucky on the ropes early. Matthews hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring, but Zac Stacy and Wesley Tate took over from there, moving the chains with heady runs that helped give Vandy a 60/40 time of possession advantage through the first half. The tailback duo split touchdown runs before Rodgers stepped up to hit Boyd for a 30 yard touchdown that gave Vanderbilt a 27-0 lead at the half.
Vandy pulled off the gas in the second half, opting for more runs and allowing Brian Kimbrow and Warren Norman to earn some carries. Kimbrow showed that he's a home run threat every time he touches the ball with a dazzling 33-yard touchdown run up the middle where no Wildcat defender even laid a hand on him. Norman, who hasn't seen much action in 2012, was also effective, notching eight carries for 34 yards.
Kentucky came close to breaking the shutout several times, but failed to capitalize on drives that put the 'Cats in Commodore territory. UK missed a 50-yard field goal on their first drive of the game and then had three drives end due to turnover on downs in or near the end zone in the second half.
Carey Spear finished off the Commodore scoring with a pair of long field goals to make it 40-0.
Vanderbilt's balance was clear against the Wildcats. Vandy passed for 220 yards while rushing for 224 in the rout. Despite the large margin of victory, backup quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels only attempted one pass for the Commodores.
The win improves Vanderbilt to 5-4 on the season and 3-3 in conference play. Kentucky fell to 1-8 and 0-7 with the loss. That puts the Commodores just one win from bowl eligibility, and they'll have the chance to earn a postseason bid next week as they travel to Mississippi for a contest with cross-division rival Ole Miss.