Head-to-head: Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky

Next up for Vanderbilt is Kentucky at 11:21 a.m. (TV: SEC Network) on Saturday. VandyMania.com compares different critical team areas of both Vanderbilt and Kentucky and indicates which team has the edge. A final score is also predicted.

Vanderbilt rushing offense
Kentucky rushing defense
This matchup pits two evenly rated units Vanderbilt is ranked No. 87th in rushing (132 ypg) compared to the No. 89 rated (176 ypg) Kentucky rushing defense. However, the Vanderbilt rushing attack will likely be missing its three top runners. Kennard Reeves, who has 274 career rushing yards, and converted linebacker Micah Powell will try to pick up the slack. Linebacker Danny Trevathan leads the Wildcats in tackles with an impressive 110. Defensive back Winston Guy has 73.  
Vanderbilt passing offense
Kentucky passing defense
Kentucky has the No. 10 (165 ypg) ranked passing defense in the FBS but is likely not as great as its ranking. UK has a poor rushing defense so opponents will run more than they pass because they will have a better chance of success, thus the passing defense yardage lowers and the UK pass defense looks good. Despite the fact that the UK passing defense may be overrated somewhat, look for them to have a solid game against Vandy. However, Vandy should be able to break the century mark in passing yardage for the first time two weeks. Vandy's passing attack is ranked No. 115 (135 ypg) and is led by veteran Larry Smith who has passed for a total of 63 yards in his past two games. Brandon Barden has 24 receptions this season to lead Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is No. 100 nationally in sacks allowed while UK is No. 95 in sacks accumulated.  
Kentucky rushing offense
Vanderbilt rushing defense
This matchup pits the No. 67 (150 ypg) Kentucky rushing attack against the No. 90 (180 ypg) Commodore rushing defense. Derrick Locke has almost 600 yards rushing for UK but has missed the past few games. Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips has said that he's optimistic that Locke will be back for Vandy. Last week against Charleston Southern, UK used Donald Russell (110 yds) and CoShik Williams (95 yds). Safety Sean Richardson leads Vanderbilt in tackles with 74 followed by linebacker Chris Marve with 68. Vanderbilt will be without defensive end Walker May who was injured against Florida.  
Kentucky passing offense
Vanderbilt passing defense
This matchup pits the No. 20 (278 ypg) passing attack against the No. 94 (241 ypg) Vandy passing defense. Where the Wildcat passing defense may be overrated the UK passing offense is certainly not. Senior quarterback Mike Hartline has passed for 2,674 yards and 21 touchdowns with just 8 interceptions. Hartline passed for 353 yards three weeks ago against Georgia and 349 yards the week prior against South Carolina. Hartline's top target is the very athletic Randall Cobb who has 63 catches this season for seven touchdowns. Kentucky's offensive line protects Hartline well, allowing only about one sack per game. Vanderbilt averages about two sacks of opponents per game.  
Special Teams
Vanderbilt's Ryan Fowler has made 3-of-4 field goals this season with a long of 30. Kentucky's Craig McIntosh has connected on 9-of-10 field goals with a long of 50. Vanderbilt Richard Kent averages 41.7 yards per punt while Kentucky's Ryan Tydlacka averages 45.2. Vanderbilt is 36th nationally in net punting (38 ypp) while UK is No. 50th (37.1 ypp). Vanderbilt averages 6.9 yards per punt return compared to Kentucky's 7.7 yards per return. Vandy and Kentucky both average about 22 yards per kickoff turn. Vanderbilt, will again be without return threat Warren Norman. Vanderbilt is allowing opponents to return punts about 7 yards per return while Kentucky allows 11 yards per return. Vanderbilt opponents return kickoffs 21.5 yards per return while Kentucky allows 23.2 yard per return. Vanderbilt had two punts blocked against Florida last week and also but blocked a Florida kick and punt.  
Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell is 2-7 in his first year at Vanderbilt. Caldwell has over 30 years experience as an assistant coach. Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips is 5-5 in his first year in Lexington.  
Vanderbilt won in 2008 the last time the two teams met in Lexington. The Wildcats can become bowl eligible with a win over Vanderbilt.  

PREDICTION: Kentucky 31, Vanderbilt 20.

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