Vanderbilt at Kentucky
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Commonwealth Stadium
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Radio: WLAP AM-630, WBUL FM-98.1, XM Channel 190, Sirius Channel 83
Series: Tied 42-42-4
Last meeting: Vanderbilt won 21-17 in Nashville on Nov. 14, 2015, and has won four of the last five
Favorite: Kentucky is favored by three points
UK will seek to avenge a crushing defeat in Nashville a season ago in a game the Wildcats cost themselves with a series of miscues and perplexing coaching decisions. That 2015 loss to Vanderbilt kept Kentucky from bowl eligibility.
On the spot
Mark Stoops. By blowing a big halftime lead and falling to Southern Mississippi in the season opener, Stoops and Kentucky left themselves with all but no margin of error in terms of earning UK’s first bowl trip since the 2010 season. Just as the South Carolina game two weeks ago was must-win for Stoops, so too is this one. It’s hard to see how the fourth-year Kentucky head man can get to six wins without a “W” over Vandy.
The big threat
Ralph Webb. Vanderbilt’s 5-foot-10, 202-pound junior running back comes to Lexington as the leading rusher in the SEC (582 yards, 116.4 yards a game). A season ago, Webb carried 33 times against the Cats, gaining 115 yards. Given how spotty UK’s run defense has been in 2016 (allowing 198.6 yards a game), it would be no shock if Webb got 30-plus touches again.
Is relieved. After Kentucky absorbed a no-show, 45-7 loss at Florida in its first road game of 2016, UK backers were pleased the Cats at least showed fight while falling 34-6 last week at No. 1 Alabama. A win over Vanderbilt will keep the baying hounds away from the front door of Mark Stoops. A loss, however, will turn the atmosphere toxic just as Kentucky enters a bye week.