Instant analysis from Kentucky’s 44-21 win over Vanderbilt:
How the game was won
Kentucky’s much-criticized pass defense intercepted three Kyle Shurmur throws in the first half (and four overall) and UK running backs Benny Snell (three) and Sihiem King (two) combined for five touchdown runs as the Wildcats dominated Vandy on the road.
1. Kentucky pass defense. After getting lacerated last week by Mississippi, the Cats had as many picks of Kyle Shurmur in the first half as the Vanderbilt quarterback had thrown all season coming into the game.
2. Denzil Ware. UK rush end/outside linebacker had two quarterback sacks and an interception.
3. Benny Snell. With 1,039 yards this season, the Kentucky sophomore (17 carries, 116 yards) is now the first running back in UK football history to run for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
4. Garrett Johnson. The UK senior wideout (six catches, 76 yards) became the fourth player in Kentucky football history to go over 2,000 yards receiving in a career.
5. Miles Butler. Rather than burn the redshirt of backup punter Grant McKinniss in the season’s 10th game, UK made the right decision and used backup place-kicker Miles Butler to punt. Butler made the move look good, pinning Vandy inside its 20-yard line on all three of his punts.
6. Stephen Johnson. The senior is now 5-3 as Kentucky’s starting quarterback in true road games with four SEC road wins.
7. Mark Stoops. Getting to seven wins meant the Kentucky head coach’s contract automatically adds a year (now through the 2022 season). Stoops also gets a $250,000 bonus for a seventh win in a season.
I’d surmise the UK head man was probably happier with the way his team played in an SEC road game.
1. Derek Mason. For the Vanderbilt head coach, getting blown out at home by a conference foe that hadn’t beaten Vandy in Nashville since 2009 was not a great look.
Four. By beating Vanderbilt, Kentucky has four SEC wins (4-3) for a second straight season. The last time UK won four league contests in back-to-back seasons was 1998 and 1999 under Hal Mumme.
For the 10th game of the 2017 season, Kentucky wore blue helmets, blue jerseys with white letters and numbers and blue pants. Until Saturday, UK had not worn all-blue in the past three seasons.
Kentucky (7-3, 4-3 SEC) will travel to Athens to face Georgia (9-1, 6-1 SEC) this coming Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in a game televised by CBS (WKYT-Channel 27 in Lexington). The top-ranked team in the College Football Playoff Rankings, Coach Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs were waxed at Auburn 40-17 Saturday.
Know your foe
1. Since 1990, Kentucky is 4-23 against Georgia. Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke led the Wildcats to their most recent victory over the Bulldogs, a 34-27 upset in Athens in 2009.
2. As a Georgia safety in 1998, current Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart intercepted a Tim Couch pass at the Georgia 25-yard-line in the fourth quarter to help preserve a 28-26 Georgia victory over Kentucky in Commonwealth Stadium.
3. Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are one of the most dynamic running back duos in the country. Going into the Auburn game, Chubb, a 5-foot-10, 225-pound senior from Cedartown, Ga., had run for 867 yards and nine touchdowns and was averaging 6.2 yards a carry. Michel, a 5-11, 215-pound senior from Plantation, Fla., had run for 710 yards and nine TDs with an average of 7.9 yards a carry.
Kentucky at Georgia
3:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS-27)