Vanderbilt Commodores (0-5) at Kentucky Wildcats (2-4)
- Game Time: 12 pm EST on November 14th.
- Location: Kroger Field in Lexington, KY
- TV Channel: Today’s game can be seen on the SEC Network.
- Announcers: Dave Neal, D.J. Shockley and Dawn Davenport will be calling the action.
- Online Stream: WatchESPN and fuboTV
- Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
- Radio: Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and on the UK Sports Network.
- Online radio: TuneIn broadcast or UKAthletics.com.
- Rosters: UK | VU
- Odds: Kentucky opened as a 17-point favorite. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Kentucky a 93.7% chance of getting the win. The over/under is 42.
- Weather: 48 degrees with 6.52 MPH winds and no chance of rain at kickoff (via Covers).
- Prediction: TeamRankings has Kentucky winning 31-13 win, while numberFire went with a 37-13 victory for Kentucky.
Play for something bigger than yourself #SchlarmanStrong pic.twitter.com/hMq3uKC5g2— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 13, 2020
The Kentucky Wildcats will host the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday in a very important game. Does an important game exist in a conference-only COVID-19 regulated season?
When it comes to facing a winless team at home, yes, yes it does.
Kentucky sits at 2-4 on the season, which is where many predicted them to be. Maybe swap the Tennessee win with the Missouri loss, and you end up at the same place with the Wildcats in an uphill battle at getting to a .500 record.
Kentucky has Vanderbilt, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina remaining on the schedule. They will have to beat Vanderbilt and South Carolina at home to go 4-6, then pull off an upset at Bama or Florida to break even. That makes this Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt huge in the grand scheme of things.
The Wildcats will be playing with heavy hearts after offensive line coach John Schlarman passed away Thursday after a two-year bout with cancer. He’s been an assistant at Kentucky since the 2013 season and has been a key part of the program’s resurgence.
The heart and soul of Kentucky football, Schlarman’s offensive lines have been among the best in the SEC in recent years. They were semifinalists in 2016 and 2019 for the Joe Moore Award, which is given to the nation’s top offensive line. It’s unclear who will now coach the offensive line for the rest of the season, though offensive coordinator Eddie Gran handled those duties in the last two games.
The emotion of losing someone as loved and respected as Schlarman will be very hard to overcome. There’s no question it’s Kentucky’s biggest challenge this week, but you know the offensive linemen will want to do their best to honor Schlarman’s legacy with how they play the rest of the season.
Vanderbilt sits at 0-5, with their closest games coming against Texas A&M in week one and last week against Mississippi State. They are also facing some COVID issues that may or not impact Saturday’s game.
The Commodores are led by freshman signal caller Ken Seals. Seals has completed over 67% of his classes for over 1,000 yards already this season, but he also has thrown eight interceptions to just six touchdowns. He is certainly an upgrade from anything we have seen behind center in Nashville in recent years, putting up 336 yards in the air in a seven-point loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs last weekend.
Vanderbilt’s top pass-catcher is junior receiver Cam Johnson, who’s accounted for 33 grabs for 338 yards and one score. He’s coming off the best game of his career, as he caught 10 balls for 114 yards against Mississippi State.
Junior tight end Ben Bresnahan, who’s appeared in just four games, has caught 17 passes for 169 yards and one score. He caught six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown last week vs. the Bulldogs.
Vanderbilt has posted a balanced attack, rushing for nearly 600 yards on the season behind sophomore Keyon Henry-Brooks who leads the team with 253 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Ja’Veon Marlow is also averaging over 4.5 yards per carry on the year on 33 carries.
Vandy’s defense, on the other hand, has struggled across the board. Since week one, they have given up 40 points per game, giving away large chunks of yards on the ground and in the air.
Making matters worse is Vanderbilt defensive backs Frank Coppet and D.C. Williams, both part-time starters, entered the NCAA transfer portal this week and won’t play vs. Kentucky.
Kentucky will absolutely look to capitalize in the run game behind their trio of running backs in A.J. Rose, Chris Rodriguez Jr. and Kavosiey Smoke.
But who will be throwing the passes?
While it’s still unclear who will start at quarterback for the Wildcats, we do know that Terry Wilson is back from a wrist injury that sidelined him vs. Georgia. Wilson, Joey Gatewood, and Beau Allen have all seen snaps in practice in the last two weeks. We do not know who will start the game, but I would expect multiple quarterbacks to get an opportunity on Saturday.
Kentucky’s defense bounced back in a big way two weeks ago, holding Georgia to only 14 points after a disappointing outing against Missouri the week before. If the Wildcats are able to perform to their potential on the defensive side of the ball, they should be able to put the offense in good positions to make things happen against Vanderbilt.