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Better Know an SEC Opponent: the Kentucky Wildcats

Hey, Vandy’s favored!

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NCAA Football: Tennessee at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The School: The University of Kentucky

Record: 6-3 (3-3 in the SEC). One of those conference wins came over Tennessee, which is conflicting. On one hand, anyone that beats the Vols should be considered a friend. On the other, that will probably do it for Butch Jones, and I’m not yet ready to see everyone’s favorite misprinted-motivational-poster-come-to-life end his Knoxville tenure just yet.

Ranking: Unranked in the AP Top 25 and the Coaches' Polls. Jeff Sagarin has UK rated 72nd in his rankings, because SEC East wins are currently as valueless as Zimbabwe dollars. (Vandy moved from 82nd to 80th because beating a Conference-USA team commands a similar level of respect).

Mascot: The Wildcat. You know who else had a Wildcat mascot? WCW. Home of this man:

Hell yes. Second Disco Inferno reference this season.

Location: Lexington, KY. Whenever I needed to duck out of a weekend engagement — say a lame party, or helping an acquaintance move, or one time, both (Saad, you’re a dick) — I’d tell the host I couldn’t make it because I had to go to Lexington, KY that weekend. In my mind, the follow-up would be taking my cousin to see the university, but no one ever asked a follow-up question, because who would ever lie about having to go to Lexington, KY?

Coach: Mark Stoops. His brother Bob won a national title in his second season as an NCAA head coach. Mark, uh, beat a seven-win South Carolina team.

Conference: The SEC, where they brought home a 2011 co-ed rifle NCAA Championship.

I think they play basketball, too.

All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 43-42-4. Well, there’s some motivation.

In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 5-5. Congrats, UK. Your football program is just northern Vandy without the excuse of rigorous academics.

The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Kyle Shurmur needed 29 passes to throw for 141 yards, but that was still better than Stephen Johnson’s 49 yards on 24 attempts.

Of course, Vandy still found a way to lose a game in which it held its opponent to two yards per pass, 20-13. The ‘Dores earned a 1st-and-goal situation with 35 seconds left, but threw three straight incomplete passes, then took an inexplicable delay of game call before a fourth.

It was bad.

Is Vandy Favored?: Yes! The Commodores opened as a three-point favorite over Wildcats, mostly because some overzealous and confused bettors missed the “W” in front of last week’s opponent and think Vandy will easily take the rematch.

Most Potent Offensive Threat: Benny Snell ran for 94 yards against the Commodores last season as a freshman, and that was on a day where Zach Cunningham made 10 tackles. Vanderbilt no longer has Zach Cunningham and is suddenly the FBS’s 115th-ranked rushing defense, so Benny’s probably gonna turn on


the Jets

Saturday afternoon.

Most Potent Defensive Threat: Josh Allen is the Wildcats’ leading pass rusher, having recorded 14 sacks in his last 22 games. Kentucky sacked Shurmur four times last fall working against a tougher Vandy O-line, with Allen picking up 1.5 of those. He might replace his eye black with Kyle Shurmur’s blood if the Commodores aren’t better Saturday.

Matchup to Watch: Snell vs. the Vandy defense. If the ‘Dores can stop the UK running attack, they can prevent this from being a shootout and roll an SEC showdown into a game that resembles the team’s non-conference slate. WKU technically ran for -6 yards last week.

And yet, even after a -6 yard performance, Vandy is STILL only ranked 115th in rushing defense, which should tell you everything you need to know about how bad things have been during the conference schedule.

Interesting Fact: Lexington is known as the “Athens of the West,” which is a bold statement for a city

a) devoid of culture, and
b) not even west of the Mississippi River

Did they mean the Athens, GA of the sorta-north?

Bonus Fact!: Why haven’t the students of Transylvania University taken over UK and turned it into their kingdom of the night?

If Kentucky wins, we: work immediately at figuring out what the hell is going on with Missouri. The Tigers are up next, and what once looked like an easy day against a team who Purdue stomped out 35-3, is now a showdown with a rising program who beat Florida 45-16.