The Kentucky Wildcats are back on the football field Saturday for their final road game of the 2015 college football season.
They'll take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in a clash of SEC East Rivals looking to keep their bowl hopes alive. It also may end up being the biggest game of UK's season as they sit at 4-5 and in the midst of a four-game losing streak. It's not been the kind of season the Wildcats had hoped for under head coach Mark Stoops, but it could still end up being as good as anyone could have hoped for.
That's because all three games left on the schedule are very winnable, including Saturday's game in Nashville. The 'Dores enter this game at 3-6 and have struggled mightily on the offensive end this season. UK hasn't been too hot on offense yet either though, which could lead them to going with redshirt freshman Drew Barker as the starting QB this week.
Barker has yet to make a collegiate start this season, but has played spot duty in several games. He'd be getting a tough first test going against a Vanderbilt defense that ranks 12th in scoring defense and 19th in total defense. Even if Barker plays and/or starts, expect junior quarterback Patrick Towles to see some action as well.
The Wildcats are seeking their second consecutive win over Vanderbilt, after posting a 17-7 win over the Commodores in Lexington last season. The two teams have met every season since 1945, with UK leading the series by a narrow margin, 42-41-4. The Commodores lead the series in Nashville, 26-19-2. The series began in 1896, with a 6-0 Vanderbilt win in Nashville.
Since a two-year hiatus in the series from 1943-44, the teams have met each season since 1945. The biggest UK win has gotten over the 'Dores was 49-point win (52-3) in 1978 in Lexington. In games decided by 7 points or fewer, Vanderbilt leads the series by a narrow 13-11-4 margin.
Last season's win over the 'Dores provides hope this Wildcat squad can get it done in Nashville. In the last meeting between the two teams, Kentucky posted a 17-7 win, riding a strong defensive performance to the first SEC win in the Mark Stoops era. In a game with all the scoring done in the first half, UK’s defense pitched a shutout in the second half with the only Vanderbilt points coming on an interception return for a TD from Darrius Sims to tie the game early in the second quarter.
UK then scored the final 10 points of the game, with QB Patrick Towles pushing it in from a yard out with eight seconds in the half to complete a 12-play drive. UK held Vanderbilt to eight first downs, 54 yards rushing and 85 yards passing. It was easily the best defensive performance by a Stoops-led UK team, and let's hope we see a repeat performance on Saturday.
Here is everything you'll need to watch and follow this game.
Kentucky Wildcats (4-5, 2-5 in SEC play) at Vanderbilt Commodores (3-6, 1-5 in SEC play)
When: Saturday, Nov. 14
Start Time: 4 pm ET
Where: Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee
TV Info: This game will be broadcast on the SEC Network
Channels: DirecTV 611, Dish 408, U-Verse 607, FiOs 75/575 and Time Warner Cable 76/796 in Lexington
Announcers: Tom Hart, Andrew Ware and Laura Rutledge
Radio: Tom Leach (play-by-play), Jeff Piecoro (analyst) and Dick Gabriel (sideline) will have the call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington. It's also available on satellite radio (XM 191 and Sirius 145) or online at UKathleticsgameday.com/football.
Odds: Vandy enters this game as a 2.5-point favorite with an over/under of 40, according to Odds Shark.
Weather: Per Weather Underground, it's looking like there's a good chance of clear skies and solid football weather: