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Mark Stoops gets a 1-year extension with win vs. Vanderbilt, plus postgame notes

Stoops is two wins away from another nice bonus.

Justin Hodges - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats picked up a much-needed win on Saturday night as they went to Nashville and defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 34-17.

Not only was it a big win for this team, but it was a big win for Mark Stoops. His contract has an incentive where he automatically gets a one-year contract extension every season that he wins seven games.

According to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, Stoops’ contract now runs through June 2027 and the additional year is set to pay him $6.5 million with $4.875 million of that being guaranteed money.

While this season hasn’t been quite as special as everyone had hoped for when Kentucky was 6-0, it’s still become a historic one due to the Cats finishing second in the SEC East. It’s the first time since the league split into divisions in 1992 that Kentucky will end the season in sole possession of second place of the division. UK finished in a tie for second in the division in 2016 and 2018, both under Stoops’ watch.

The Wildcats have two more very winnable games left on their schedule with New Mexico State and Louisville remaining to wrap up the regular season.

That is significant because the Cats currently sit at 7-3 on the year and another incentive in Stoops’ contract is a $250,000 bonus beginning with the ninth win of each season. So, take care of business the final two weeks and Stoops will be looking at a nice payday.

The Cats will kick off their game against New Mexico State next Saturday at 12:00 P.M. and that will air on the SEC Network.

Now, here are the postgame notes and milestones via UK Athletics.

Team Records and Series Information

  • Kentucky is 7-3 overall, 5-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt is 2-8 overall, 0-6 in the SEC.
  • Kentucky leads the series 48-42-4 and has won the last six. It matches UK’s longest winning streak in the series as UK also won six in a row from 1976-81.
  • Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats have their home finale and Senior Day on Saturday, November 20 against New Mexico State. Game time is noon, and it will be telecast on the SEC Network.

What the Wins Means for Kentucky

  • Kentucky is 7-3 for the first time since 2018 and has clinched a winning record for the 2021 season.
  • Kentucky is 5-3 in the SEC and will finish in second place in the SEC Eastern Division.
  • It is the first time since the league split into divisions in 1992 that UK will end the season in sole possession of second place of the East.
  • UK also has finished in a tie for second in the division on two other occasions, 2016 and 2018.
  • All three second-place East finishes have been in the last six seasons under Mark Stoops.
  • This is the second time since 1977 that UK has posted a winning record in league play, 5-3 this season and also in 2018.
  • Six straight wins over Vanderbilt, matches UK’s longest win streak in the series (six from 1976-81).

Coach Mark Stoops

  • This was Stoops’ 56th win as UK head coach. Paul “Bear” Bryant holds the school record with 60 victories.
  • Stoops is now 56-53 at Kentucky. After two games of the 2016 season, his record was 12-26 but has gone 44-27 (.620) since.
  • Stoops extended his school records for total SEC wins (29) and total games coached at UK (109).
  • Coach Stoops is in his ninth season as head coach of the Wildcats, tying Fran Curci (1973-81) for most seasons as head coach at UK.

Team Notes

  • Kentucky scored the first five times it touched the ball – a six-yard touchdown pass from Will Levis to Wan’Dale Robinson; a 22-yard pass from Levis to Izayah Cummings; a 31-yard interception return by Jalen Geiger; a five-yard run by Chris Rodriguez Jr.; and a 25-yard field goal by Matt Ruffolo
  • Kentucky ran 22 plays and racked up 12 first downs before having its first third-down situation of the game at the 4:38 mark of the second quarter.
  • Kentucky had 413 yards total offense – 236 rushing and 177 passing.
  • In all five of UK’s SEC wins this season, the Wildcats had more rushing yardage than passing.

Player Notes

· Junior quarterback Will Levis completed 14 of 22 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

  • He picked up 32 rushing yards on six carries for 209 yards total offense.
  • Levis completed his first eight passes before an incompletion with 4:43 remaining in the second quarter.

· Junior running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed 16 times for 114 yards and one touchdown, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. He played less than three quarters of the game.

  • It is his fifth 100-yard game of the season. He is tied for fifth place in school history in 100-yard rushing games with 11.
  • He has 1,032 yards this season, becoming the 10th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, marking the 14th time a Wildcat has accomplished the feat.
  • He has 2,393 career rushing yards, remains in ninth place in school history.
  • In three games against Vanderbilt, he has totaled 44 carries for 392 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 8.9 yards per attempt against the Commodores.
  • Sophomore running back JuTahn McClain set career highs with 10 carries for 69 yards, averaging 6.9 per carry.

· Junior wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson caught six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.

  • He has 77 catches this season, tying Keenan Burton (2006) for fifth place on the single-season receptions list.

· Senior wide receiver Josh Ali caught four passes for 58 yards.

  • He has 1,235 receiving yards in his career, advancing to 22nd place in UK history.

· Sophomore tight end Izayah Cummings caught two passes for 27 yards, including a 22-yarder that is his third touchdown of the year.

· Senior safety Yusuf Corker led the defense with eight tackles.

· Senior defensive end Josh Paschal had seven tackles, including a pair of quarterback sacks.

  • He has 34.5 tackles for loss in his career and moved into sole possession of sixth place in UK history.

· In his first collegiate start, sophomore safety Jalen Geiger made his first collegiate interception and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.

  • It is UK’s second interception return for a touchdown this season. Tyrell Ajian had a 95-yard TD return against Chattanooga.

· Sophomore nose guard Justin Rogers made four tackles, including a nine-yard quarterback sack and a one-yard tackle for loss.

  • Senior punter Colin Goodfellow kicked twice for a 45.5-yard average. He entered the game leading the SEC with a 47.5-yard average.
  • Senior kicker Matt Ruffolo made all six of his kicks – field goals of 25 and 32 yards, plus all four extra points.

· Making their first career starts were a trio of sophomores, nose guard Josaih Hayes, nickelback Vito Tisdale and safety Jalen Geiger.

· Game captains tonight were Josh Paschal, DeAndre Square, Will Levis and Luke Fortner.