Coming out of their bye week, the Kentucky Wildcats are tied for first place in the SEC East. This weekend, they’ll start the second half of their season by playing host to the Vanderbilt Commodores at Kroger Field.
After the Wildcats’ 5-1 start, the next six games provide Kentucky an opportunity to pull off one of their best seasons in program history.
Despite their excellence in the first half of the season, Kentucky is favored over an SEC opponent for the first time this year. The Commodores (3-4) began their season 2-1 with a narrow loss at Notre Dame (currently ranked 4th) before having their doors blown off by both Georgia & South Carolina.
Last week’s emotional loss to the Florida Gators has the Commodores sixth in the SEC East & in search of their first conference win of the season.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, are 3-1 in-conference with two of those wins vs. top-25 schools. In fact, all three came via upset according to oddsmakers in Las Vegas despite two of the games being played at Kroger Field.
Kentucky’s defense, which ranks fourth in scoring, 11th in total & 23rd vs. both the run & pass, has played their best football under head coach Mark Stoops. Benny Snell Jr., subtracting his inexcusable 13 carries at Texas A&M, has been nearly unstoppable thus far.
The Wildcats on Saturday are sure to have both their defense and rushing attack back on track against a less-than-mediocre Vanderbilt team. However, it’s their quarterback who needs a confidence boost.
Compared to starting SEC quarterbacks, Terry Wilson ranks second to last in both yards per attempt (6.22) & QBR (118.54). Wilson also ranks last in touchdown passes (3) while throwing the third-most interceptions (5).
Against the 98th-ranked Commodores’ defense, expect Wilson to bounce back accordingly with two weeks to prepare. If not, considering what Kentucky has at stake down the stretch, Big Blue Nation may see a change under center.
Kentucky is favored by 11.5 points and ‘should’ roll Vanderbilt. While Kentucky football has a past reputation of playing down to competition in the past, this team presents a quality veteran presence and has much more to play for down the stretch.
As mentioned above, Kentucky has had a knack of playing down to the competition, and to a degree, that’s held true this year. Kentucky failed to cover the spread in home wins over Central Michigan and Murray State, the only two games that oddsmakers favored the Wildcats.
But as underdogs against Florida, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Texas A&M, Kentucky covered the spread and went 3-1 in said games.
Here is a look at the recent betting trends for the Wildcats and Commodores:
- Kentucky is 5-10 ATS in its last 15 games
- Kentucky is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Kentucky’s last 5 games
- Kentucky is 3-11 ATS in its last 14 games at home
- Kentucky is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games at home
- Vanderbilt is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
- Vanderbilt is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Vanderbilt’s last 7 games
- Vanderbilt is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
- Vanderbilt is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games on the road
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Vanderbilt’s last 6 games on the road
- The total has gone UNDER in 14 of Vanderbilt’s last 21 games on the road
- Vanderbilt is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Kentucky
- Vanderbilt is 7-15 SU in its last 22 games when playing Kentucky
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Vanderbilt’s last 6 games when playing Kentucky
- Vanderbilt is 2-6 SU in its last 8 games when playing on the road against Kentucky
ESPN FPI gives the Wildcats an 85% chance of victory. TeamRankings projects a 29-17 Kentucky win, while numberFire has a 29-19 win for the home team.
OddsShark predicts that Kentucky will win, 32-22, but Vanderbilt will cover the spread of 12.5 points and the total will go over 47 points.
Barrett Sallee, Barton Simmons & Jerry Palm of CBS Sports predict that Kentucky will cover the spread while Ben Kercheval, Chip Patterson, Dennis Dodd & Tom Fornelli are siding with the Commodores. However, all are going with Kentucky across the board to win straight-up.
Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal is going with Kentucky, 35-17.
Dan Wolken, Eddie Timanus, Erick Smith, George Schroder, Jace Evans & Paul Myerberg of USA Today are unanimously taking Kentucky (straight-up).
Kentucky has shown Big Blue Nation in recent years that they’ve been a rollercoaster when it comes to consistency. However, their 2018 campaign has been far different than most expected. Stoops and his team have had two weeks to not only prepare but also heal nagging injuries.
After their last outing resulting in a narrow overtime loss, Kentucky knows they must make every snap count if they want to truly shock the college football world. Starting with Terry Wilson showing major signs of improvement and Benny Snell returning to his regular form, the Wildcats should roll past the Commodores.
Final Score: Wildcats 34, Commodores 10