Vanderbilt at No. 14 Kentucky
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Kroger Field
Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 190, Sirius Channel 105
Records: Kentucky (5-1, 3-1 SEC); Vanderbilt (3-4, 0-3 SEC)
Series: Kentucky leads 44-42-2, and has won three of the past four.
Last meeting: Kentucky beat Vanderbilt 44-21 on Nov. 4, 2017, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville.
Favorite: Kentucky is favored by 12 1/2 points.
The story line
Coming off both its first loss of the season and an open date, Kentucky resumes its 2018 football season trying to reignite its offense against a Vanderbilt team still seeking its first win of 2018 against a power-five conference foe. UK has only scored one offensive touchdown in its past six quarters, with no rushing TDs in that span. After a week to rest and reset, Benny Snell and Co. will seek to get the Cats offense rolling again.
The big threat
Kyle Shurmur. The Vanderbilt senior quarterback will be making his fourth career start against Kentucky and attempting to even his career record (currently 1-2) vs. the Wildcats. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior, a pocket passer, has completed a so-so 58.7 percent of his throws this season with 11 touchdown passes and five interceptions. The son of New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur might feel he owes UK one. Last season, Shurmur threw four interceptions vs. the Cats after entering the game having thrown only three all season.
On the spot
Terry Wilson. The junior-college transfer has, overall, played well in his debut season as Kentucky’s starting quarterback, but Wilson did not have a good game in UK’s 20-14 overtime loss at Texas A&M two Saturdays ago. The 6-3, 200-pound redshirt sophomore looked tentative in College Station, both in making throws and in when to decide not to pass and tuck the ball and run. For his own confidence as well as UK fan-base psyche, Wilson needs a strong bounce-back vs. Vandy.
Is uneasy. What has been a feel-good Kentucky football season has hit a bit of a speed bump in the past six quarters with the Wildcats’ offense going suddenly stagnant. The Long-Suffering UK Football Fans have seen Mark Stoops-coached Kentucky teams start seasons 5-1 twice before. In 2014, the Cats followed that up by going 0-6 the rest of the way. Last season, a 5-1 UK start yielded a 2-4 in the final six games. A reinvigorated offensive performance against Coach Derek Mason and Vanderbilt would reassure UK backers that the 2018 Cats will not fritter away this latest 5-1 start.
Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory