Once again, it's time for the A Sea of Blue virtual tailgate. Today's foe are the Vanderbilt Commodores, and we get to travel to Nashville to play them. Much commentary has been made about the improvement of the Commodores under James Franklin, and rightfully so. Despite a slow start and weak schedule, Vanderbilt is once again on the precipice of going to a bowl game needing only one victory out of its next three, eminently winnable games.
For Kentucky, it is still searching for its first SEC victory. Can they go down and steal their first one from our nearest SEC neighbor? We'll examine that question after we virtually dine.
First, our cocktail. Whenever I think of Nashville, I think of country music. When I think of country music, I think of Hank Williams. When I think of Hank Williams, I think of Hank Williams Jr. When I think of Hank Jr. and drinking, I think of Jim Beam:
Lordy, I have loved some ladies; And I have loved Jim Beam; And they both tried to kill me; In 1973. — Family Tradition
Jim Beam on the rocks (via patruby83)
Bring your own mixer, if you must damage the whiskey.
Next, our appetizer. This is one of my favorites:
Peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese (via stevendepolo)
I can see some of you wondering about this one, but trust me, they are delicious. The best way is to roast them in the oven, the drizzle Balsamic vinegar reduction over them. But we need portable ones for a tailgate.
For our main course, we continue our ethnic trend:
Korean beef short ribs (Kalbi) (via joyosity)
Absolutely great barbecued with a nice Asian barbecue sauce. Fun to eat as well as delicious.
For our side dish, a favorite of mine that is executed spectacularly well at the Village Anchor in Anchorage, Kentucky:
Mushroom Risotto (via JamesGallagher (ciotog))
My wife doesn't even like mushrooms, and she is nuts about this dish. If you're ever in the 'Ville looking for a great dining experience, check out the Village Anchor.
Finally, we must have beer, and since we're in Nashville, it must be Yazoo:
Yazoo beer (via Amy Guth)
I think I need a bigger mug than that, myself.
Cherry pie à la Mode (via jeffreyw)
Everybody loves cherry pie. Everybody loves ice cream. This is called, "multitasking," when it comes to satisfying cravings.
Now to the game. Be sure, if you're interested in stats and analysis, you review Hank's game preview here and also wamarsh's fantastic stats piece here. That will bring you up to date with what the numbers say.
This is a real opportunity for Kentucky to get an upset. Kentucky's strengths and weaknesses match up reasonably well with Vanderbilt, but of course it is a road game and road games are tough in the SEC.
Vandy is coming off a "program win" at Florida, and despite the fact that Florida was extremely injured and made 3 turnovers in their own red zone, you have to hand it to the Commodores for that win. However, it may make them slightly vulnerable to an upset today, and I think Mark Stoops & Co. are coming to Music City with that in mind.
This has been a tough campaign for the Wildcats, and we knew it would be. But this is a genuinely winnable game in a way that Louisville, Alabama, South Carolina, Missouri, and Florida were not. This game is roughly in the same vein as the Mississippi St. game, a game Kentucky was very competitive in.
Injury-wise, it looks like the only player who will be out from last week will be Nate Willis, who has some kind of injury. Both Jalen Whitlow and Ryan Timmons are expected to play today, and this is about as close to healthy Kentucky has been since the last open date. Vanderbilt has several players that are questionable for this game, and is slightly more banged up than Kentucky, but not at any critical positions other than quarterback. Austyn Carta-Samuels is out indefinitely, and his backup, Patton Robinette has a few games under his belt now. As you can read here in the Q&A, he is considered a game manager and the fans seem confident in his ability.
This is a chance for Kentucky, and even though Vanderbilt is definitely a better team, they are not that much better this season. Let's hope for something special today.