Kentucky, Vanderbilt's bowl stopper

It's that time of year again, time to play the Kentucky Wildcats, the perennial thorn in Vanderbilt's side. Since 1984 Vanderbilt has played the 'Cats four times in five win seasons and have come up empty handed... and bowl less each time. Saturday Vanderbilt again faces the Wildcats in situation where they can gain a bowl bid with a win.

November 11, 1999 the 5-3 bowl hungry Vanderbilt Commodores face the Kentucky Wildcats at home on national television. It's time to end that 17-year streak of bowl less seasons. The Commodores trail 19-17 in the final minutes of the game. The Commodores drive to the Wildcat 33 before a dagger is shoved into the hearts of the Vandy Nation. Running back Rodney Williams fumbles at the Kentucky 30 and the Wildcats simply run out the clock and escape with a victory. Vanderbilt sits at home for the holidays while Kentucky fans flood into Nashville to watch the 'Cats in the Music City Bowl.

Kentucky crashes Vandy bowl hopes

11-10-1984 Lexington UK 27 VU 19
11-13-1999 Nashville UK 19 VU 17
11-12-2005 Nashville UK 48 VU 43
11-10-2007 Nashville UK 27 VU 20
11-15-2008 Lexington ?????
Fast forward to November 12, 2005, Vanderbilt (5-4) is coming off a heart breaking, 49-42, overtime loss at Florida and hosts 2-6 Kentucky in Nashville. Easy sixth victory, right? Wrong. Kentucky uses excellent special teams play and good defense to jump out of an unthinkable 34-10 halftime lead. Vanderbilt senior quarterback Jay Cutler and freshman receiver Earl Bennett woke up in the second half but their rally would fall short as Vandy succumbed, 48-43. Vandy would finish 5-6 with a win at Tennessee the following week and would go on to wonder what might have been if they'd taken care of business on a cool November day against the Wildcats.

Last year we saw our Commodores fall 27-20 to a tough UK squad. In that game VU tailback Jared Hawkins suffered a concussion after a late hit by a Wildcat player. The Commodores would sit at home again during the bowl season.

What will it take to beat Kentucky? Former Vanderbilt head coach Gerry DiNardo went 4-0 against the 'Cats back in the early 1990s. DiNardo's teams used good defense and special teams to win games and his teams rarely lost to a team they were supposed to beat. Bobby Johnson has won just once in six tries against the Cats, a 2003 28-17 upset in Nashville.

Saturday the Commodores get another shot at stopping the senseless string of non-bowl appearances since 1982. Vandy fans are tired of hearing that their team hasn't been to a bowl since Ronald Reagan was President. They are also tired of missing out every year while other teams fans get to bowls. The Vanderbilt players surely must want to go to a bowl. Hopefully they know about the cash stipend (sometimes hundreds of dollars) they get from the bowl so they can have some fun while in the bowl town. It's one of the few times a college player actually gets some money for their hard work and it's a great reward for getting victories over teams like Kentucky.

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