Vanderbilt’s annual battle with Kentucky has traditionally been a match for last place in the SEC East. But a weird thing happened on the way to the teams’ 2018 matchup: Kentucky is actually good at this football thing. Kentucky is good enough that its fans have forgotten that basketball season starts in a couple of weeks. (Ha! Just kidding.)
Kentucky is 5-1, 3-1 in the SEC, with its first win over Florida in a long time and home wins over Mississippi State and South Carolina. Vanderbilt will head to Lexington on Saturday night for a 6:30 PM CT kickoff on the SEC Network, and it could be a bit chilly at Kroger Field: as of this writing, the temperature is expected to be around 54 degrees at kickoff and dropping into the 40s as the game goes on.
Can Vanderbilt pull off the upset in Lexington?
Going into the season, I thought Vanderbilt needed to win its three non-Notre Dame non-conference games, beat Ole Miss and Tennessee to close the season, and win one of a three-game road stretch that starts Saturday night at Kentucky.
That’s still on the table, but then this game looks considerably less winnable than it did in the preseason. Kentucky’s offense consists of feeding Benny Snell the ball, and Vanderbilt is... not great at stopping the run. And the Wildcats’ defense is excellent. Maybe Ke’Shawn Vaughn will break off a couple of big runs, but it won’t be enough.
The Pick: Kentucky 28, Vanderbilt 14
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: With the way that Auburn is playing, why exactly are they favored at OLE MISS (+3.5)?
Andrew VU ‘04
Remember in the early aughts when we beat a hapless Kentucky Wildcats football team, at home, and we tore down the damned goalposts, as it was our first SEC win in forever? Remember the feeling we had after it? Some odd mix of celebration and shame (I’ll assume the Germans call it feierschande) over going nuts over a home victory over a pretty bad team?
Well, if we win this one, tear them goalposts down again. There will be no shame involved.
The Pick: Kentucky 31, Vanderbilt 20
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Have to agree with Tom here, and Early Cuyler before him. Auburn sucks. I’m taking the Fightin’ Ackbars.
Kentucky has found it’s identity by pounding the rock with two dynamic runners and a mauling offensive line. Their defense is v good. They’re giving up less than 14 points per game in conference, but it’s not like the SEC Offenses are world beaters. Nonetheless, Vanderbilt has not shown the ability to possess the ball and sustain drives throughout the course of the game.
For the ‘Dores to win, they will need turnover luck, Vaughn to get lots of touches, and receivers to catch the damn ball.
The Pick: Kentucky: 27, Vanderbilt 13
The SEC Upset of the Week: Mississippi State will beat LSU because Coach O has not yet gone full Coach O. Sure, it’s at night in Death Valley. Sure, LSU is wearing some bad ass new uniforms. I expect a lot of turnovers and a shift in the SECW standings.