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Vanderbilt gets hammered by Kentucky, 38-14

Seriously, this has to be the end.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The most shocking part about the Vanderbilt Commodores’ 38-14 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday afternoon was that Vanderbilt led 14-3 at one point in the first quarter.

Vanderbilt took the ball to start the game. Perhaps in an omen of how the day was going to go, on the second play of the game, center Sean McMoore snapped the ball over Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s head for a 20-yard loss. Vanderbilt would punt the ball two plays later (but not without a false start penalty in between, for good measure), and gifted field position on the Vanderbilt side of the 50, Kentucky quickly moved into field goal range to take a 3-0 lead.

But Vanderbilt answered with an 8-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Ke’Shawn Vaughn touchdown run, and that included this rare bit of trickery from offensive coordinator Gerry Gdowski:

Kentucky appeared to be ready to answer quickly with a touchdown of its own, though, after A.J. Rose took the first play of the next drive 49 yards to get Kentucky into scoring range. But then on the next play, Rose fumbled, and Vanderbilt’s Allan George scooped the ball up and took it to the house to give the Commodores a 14-3 lead.

Had things continued going in this manner, Vanderbilt would have won the game. Only they didn’t. Vanderbilt’s next two drives ended in punts, and Kentucky’s offense got rolling — in spite of the fact that the Wildcats had virtually no passing threat.

Except somehow, with a wide receiver at quarterback, Kentucky managed to do more through the air than Vanderbilt did. At halftime, Kentucky had 319 yards of total offense — and only 279 of them were on the ground. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s most successful passing play of the first half was a 16-yard pass thrown by... well, a wide receiver, Cam Johnson. Riley Neal’s first-half stat line: 1-for-5 for two yards. Kentucky took a 24-14 lead into halftime, helped along by a touchdown pass to Josh Ali that was deflected by a Vanderbilt defender.

Things didn’t get any better as the second half started. Kentucky extended its lead to 31-14 on its first possession; then, when Riley Neal finally threw a deep ball, it was intercepted by Kentucky’s Yusuf Corker.

And on the ensuing series, Vanderbilt’s day would be summed up perfectly. Kentucky managed to get to 3rd and 26 thanks to a holding penalty, only to convert it — on a screen pass. On the day, Kentucky was 8-for-11 on third down; Vanderbilt’s defense simply could not get off the field. The Wildcats’ Chris Rodriguez would convert a 3rd and 7 with a 27-yard touchdown run a few plays later to make the score 38-14.

That ended up being the final. Vanderbilt failed to score in the third quarter, with Riley Neal’s rushing attempt on 4th and goal coming up about three yards short. Kentucky finished the game with 402 yards rushing and 529 yards of total offense. Vanderbilt is now 2-8 on the season and 1-6 in SEC play.