Head-to-head: Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky

The Vanderbilt Commodores hope to end a 5-game conference losing streak on Saturday when they host the Kentucky Wildcats. VandyMania.com compares different critical team areas of Vanderbilt and Kentucky and indicates which team has the edge. We also predict the final score.

Vanderbilt
EDGE
AREA
Kentucky
EDGE
COMMENTS
Vanderbilt rushing offense
vs.
Kentucky rushing defense
 
This matchup pits the No. 60 (158 ypg.) Vanderbilt rushing offense against the No. 100 (197 ypg.) Kentucky rushing defense. After big several impressive rushing performances over the past few games, Vanderbilt gained just 80 yards on Saturday at Florida. Zac Stacy leads Vandy with 756 rushing yards on the season. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers gained at least 66 yards in games against Arkansas, Army and Georgia but was limited to just 20 yards and a TD against the Gators. Last week in a win over Ole Miss the Wildcats allowed 195 yards on the ground. Linebacker Danny Trevathan is one of the top tackler in the SEC with 111. He also has 7 tackles for losses.
EVEN
Vanderbilt passing offense
vs.
Kentucky passing defense
EVEN
Vanderbilt ranks No. 106 (169 ypg.) in passing offense while Kentucky is No. 28 (194 ypg.) in passing defense. Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers has improved steadily over the past four weeks. After going 4 for 19 for 47 yards against Georgia four weeks ago, Rodgers completed 19 of 28 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns against a solid Florida defense in The Swamp. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews and Rodgers complement each other. Matthews caught 9 of Rodgers passes at Florida on Saturday. Vanderbilt's offensive line has also shown improvement and now ranks 87th nationally in sacks allowed (2.5 pg.) after ranking 109th in week 3. Kentucky ranks 81st nationally in sacks made (1.56 pg.). Trevathan also leads the Wildcats in interceptions with four. This area is 'EVEN' because of the development of Jordan Rodgers.  
 
Kentucky rushing offense
vs.
Vanderbilt rushing defense
 
The No. 79 (137 ypg.) Kentucky rushing attack faces the No. 44 (133 ypg.) Vanderbilt rushing defense. Vanderbilt's rushing defense has been stingy all season. Three weeks ago the Commodores held the nation's top rushing attack, Army, to its lowest output of the season and held Arkansas to just 72 yards on 26 attempts two weeks ago. However, Florida-- playing without its starting tailback-- piled up 197 yards in Gainesville. In their win over Ole Miss the Wildcats gained 115 yards on 31 attempts. The game prior, against Mississippi State, UK gained 118 in 39 rushes. Junior Coshik Williams is the Wildcat's top ground gainer. He has 79 attempts for 385 yards (4.9 ypc.) and two scores this season. Quarterback Maxwell Smith is not a running threat. Middle linebacker Chris Marve leads the Commodores in tackles with 65 including 6 for losses.  
EVEN
Kentucky passing offense
vs.
Vanderbilt passing defense
EVEN
Kentucky air attack ranks No. 111 (143 ypg.) nationally while Vanderbilt's pass defense stands at No. 41st (208 ypg.) nationally. Vanderbilt's secondary got off to a great start in the interception department this season. The Commodores picked off a hefty 14 interceptions in their first four games but have managed just one pick over the past five games, four of them losses. Casey Hayward leads the Commodores with five interceptions. Both Vanderbilt and Kentucky have found solid quarterbacks. Freshman Maxwell Smith is 52 for 88 for 507 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Smith passed for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns against Ole Miss. Receiver Matt Roark had 7 receptions for 116 yards in that game. Kentucky is 105th (2.87 pg) in sacks allowed while Vanderbilt is 49th (2.0 pg.) in sacks made. This area is 'EVEN' because of the development of Maxwell Smith.
 
Special Teams
Vanderbilt's Carey Spear is 4 of 7 on field goal attempts with a long of 33. Ryan Fowler attempted a field goal at Florida but it was blocked. Craig McIntosh is 10 for 12 on field goals for the 'Cats with a long of 48 yards. Vanderbilt's Richard Kent averages 41.7 yards a punt with a long of 67. Ryan Tydlacka of Kentucky averages 44 yards a punt and has a long of 64. Vandy's Jonathan Krause averages 3.8 yards per punt return with a long of 18. Randall Burden of Kentucky averages 1.7 yards per punt return with his longest going of 11 yards. Andre Hal averages 24.4 yards per kickoff return with a long return of 96 yards (TD). Mychal Bailey averages 20.8 yards per return for UK. His longest return has spanned 36 yards. Vanderbilt coverage units are allowing 4.6 and 17.8 yards respectably for punts and kickoffs while the Wildcats are allowing 8.4 and 20.1 yards. Kentucky has given up a 99-yard kickoff return this season.
Coaching
 
Vanderbilt's James Franklin, who is innovative and energetic, is 4-5 in his first season at Vanderbilt. Joker Phillips, who Kentucky is 10-12 in his second season at UK, saw his team regress significantly after his first season as head coach.  
EVEN
Intangibles
EVEN
Kentucky is coming off a big win over Ole Miss while Vandy was victimized during a close loss to Florida by poor officiating. Vanderbilt is just 3-34 in November since 2001. Those wins have come over Kentucky (2003, 2008), and Tennessee (2005).

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 38, Kentucky 24.

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