Another unexpected surprise has been the Kentucky Wildcats. Sure, Rich Brooks led the Wildcats to a bowl game last season and we all thought there was a good chance of Kentucky having a winning season but these cats are different. This is not only a team that is looking to make a bowl game, this is a team that is looking to make their way to Atlanta and try to capture an SEC crown. It's going to be tough for the big blue from here on out, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. In the past, if you were talking about Kentucky playing in the SEC Championship in football, people would have thought you were crazy. Needless to say, this isn't the same Kentucky team we're use to seeing.
For the past several years, Vanderbilt fans have always pointed to the Kentucky game as either a "sure" thing, or a game they felt confident in winning. This year, there is no such thing as a "sure" thing in the SEC. Vanderbilt without question still has the talent and ability to knock off the Wildcats this Saturday in Nashville, but this could be the toughest Kentucky team they've faced in quite some time. The Wildcats are loaded on both sides of the ball, and have already proved they can put up points in a hurry. Coming off a bad home loss two weeks ago to Mississippi State, the big blue is sure to be a little angry heading into Dudley Field for this contest.
But then again, Vanderbilt will also be coming in a little angry after a disappointing loss in Gainesville. Although Vanderbilt was considered the underdog, not many people expected the game to get out of hand as early as it did. It felt like watching the Auburn game all over again. For the Commodores to compete this weekend against the much-improved Wildcats, things will have to get better in a hurry. The offense must find a way to put points on the board. Sure, they scored 22 against the Gators, but they were scored when the game was already out of reach. Also, turnovers will be even more important in this game. Vandy cannot afford to turn the ball over. Why? Because the best quarterback in the conference will be standing on the other sideline, and putting the ball in his hands numerous times is not something the Commodores want to do.
The defense must be ready for this explosive offensive attack. As mentioned, this isn't the same ol' Kentucky team we're used to seeing, and this definitely isn't the same ol' Kentucky offense we're use to seeing. These guys can put points on the board quickly. A game in the 40's probably won't benefit the Commodores. If the defense looks like it did against the Gators, it could be a long day for the Commodores on Saturday. Andre Woodson is arguably the best throwing quarterback in the country and the Vanderbilt defense will have to be very effective in order to stop this high-powered attack. As we've seen before, the Commodore defense usually rises to the challenge in these types of situations. Coming off a disappointing performance at "The Swamp," I expect this defense to come out with something to prove.
If the Commodores want to get to a bowl, this game is critical. It's as simple as that. By winning this game, Vanderbilt becomes bowl eligible, and still has two games left to get another win. And at this point, seven wins are probably what it will take to be invited to a bowl game. Also, winning this game takes a little pressure off the Dores heading into the final games against Tennessee and Wake Forest. And quite frankly, you've got to win at home. If the offense can get off to a fast start, it will undoubtedly put the defense in a much better situation. The Commodores can't afford to get down quickly like last week. They must come out and score early and put some pressure on the Kentucky offense.
Without a doubt, due to the wildness in the SEC this season, this isn't the same type of Vandy-Kentucky game. Sure, the Commodores are playing for a bowl game as they have in the past in this game, but it's still a different set of circumstances.
If both teams are at their best this weekend, we should be in for a great football game.