Vanderbilt at Kentucky: Keys to the game

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistNovember 2, 2012 

October 27, 2012; Columbia, MO. USA; Kentucky Wildcats running back Raymond Sanders (4) carries the ball against the Missouri Tigers during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Missouri Tigers defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 33-10. Photo by: Jeff Curry

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  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

Keys to Saturday's Vanderbilt-Kentucky football game:

THE GAME

Vanderbilt (4-4, 2-3 SEC) at Kentucky (1-8, 0-6 SEC)

When: Noon

Where: Commonwealth Stadium

TV: ESPNU

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, Sirius Channel 123, XM Channel 201

Series: Kentucky leads 41-39-4

Last meeting: Vanderbilt won 38-8 on Nov. 12, 2011, in Nashville.

Line: Vanderbilt is favored by 7 points.

THE KEYS

1. Fire up the infantry

With its post-Maxwell Smith revolving door at quarterback, Kentucky has to mount an effective ground attack to have any chance. Two weeks ago, while playing Georgia far closer than expected in a 29-24 loss, UK ran for a season-high 206 yards. Against a Vanderbilt defense ranked 12th in the SEC against the run (allowing 172.2 yards a game), the Cats need a similar performance.

2. Stop Stacy

Last year in what ended as an embarrassing 38-8 loss at Vanderbilt, 5-foot-9, 210-pound running back Zac Stacy literally carried most of the Kentucky defense into the end zone on a late, 18-yard TD run. It was the final humiliation at the end of a dispiriting day for UK. This season, senior Stacy has become Vandy's all-time leading career rusher and ripped Auburn for 169 yards on the ground two games ago. Assuming an injured right ankle allows him to play, the UK defense has something to prove against the Alabama product.

3. Treat with tricks

On Halloween week, the UK offensive brain trust may as well treat what is left of the Kentucky fan base in Commonwealth Stadium by unleashing double reverses, throw-back passes and any other trick plays in the playbook. After all, late in a dreary 1-8 campaign, what has Kentucky left to lose?

THE MOOD

Is U-G-L-Y. In what has been a slog of a season, Kentucky has — the Arkansas debacle withstanding — continued to play hard. With speculation about the status of Joker Phillips' job now overflowing, do the youthful Cats still have the battle left in them to pull off a home upset of Vandy?

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com

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