Vanderbilt (4-4) at Kentucky (1-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 3, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Commonwealth Stadium (67,606) -- Lexington, Kentucky. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Vanderbilt 3-2, UK 1-4. Away Record: Vanderbilt 1-2, UK 0-4. Neutral Record: Vanderbilt 0-0, UK 0-0. Conference Record: Vanderbilt 2-3, UK 0-6. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 41-39-2.
GAME NOTES: Still looking for their first win in conference play, the Kentucky Wildcats will host their final SEC game of the season on Saturday afternoon when they host the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Vanderbilt is coming off back-to-back wins for the first time all season after collecting home victories against Auburn (17-13) and UMass (49-7). At 4-4 overall (2-3 SEC), the Commodores will need a win two of its final four games to become bowl eligible.
With a 33-10 loss at Missouri last week, Kentucky fell to 1-8 on the year and lost its seventh-consecutive contest. The Wildcats are still winless in the SEC, and they have won just four games against conference opponents dating back to the start of the 2010 season.
These two teams have played each other remarkably close over their histories, with the Wildcats holding a slim 41-39-2 advantage all-time. Vanderbilt won at home last season in blowout fashion, 38-8.
The Vanderbilt offense (23.6 ppg, 377.4 ypg) had one of its best games of the year against UMass last Saturday, putting up 49 points and 443 yards, but running back Zac Stacy needed to leave early with a foot injury.
The good news for Stacy, the program's all-time leading, is that the injury doesn't appear to be serious. He hopes to suit up against Kentucky and improve upon his stellar 2012 campaign (131 carries, 683 yards, five TDs), but if he can't, Brian Kimbrow and Wesley Tate proved last week with 177 combined yards and two scores that they are viable replacements.
Jordan Rodgers is fresh off his best performance of the season, completing 17- of-21 passes for 217 yards with three total touchdowns. He's throw for more than 200 yards per game and has only two interceptions on the season, but he's thrown just five touchdown passes in 180 attempts.
Rodgers is locked in on Jordan Matthews as his top receiver, who after a 10- catch, 112-yard performance last week, ranks second in the league behind Arkansas' Cobi Hamilton in both catches (56) and yards (775).
The Commodores' defense has stepped up against a tough schedule, allowing less than 20 ppg and 323.3 ypg, ranking in the upper half of the stacked SEC in both categories.
Despite the defense's strong play, the unit hasn't been very active in the turnover battle, forcing just four interceptions and four fumble recoveries through eight games. Chase Garnham (seven TFL, five sacks) and Karl Butler (eight TFL) have been integral in making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Since losing its starting quarterback Maxwell Smith for the season earlier this year with an ankle injury, the Kentucky offense (18.2 ppg, 294.8 ppg) has floundered, scoring more than 17 points just once over its past six games.
In Smith's absence, Jalen Whitlow has gotten the majority of the playing time, but he's completed less than half his passes for 444 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Freshman Patrick Towles (6-of-10, 73 yards, TD) saw some snaps last week against Missouri, and expect him to see more playing time as the season winds down.
Raymond Sanders (460 yards) and Jonathan George (325 yards) have split carries in the backfield, combining for eight touchdowns. Both are capable receivers as well with double-digit catches apiece.
La'Rod King (36 receptions, 402 yards, four TDs) is the Wildcats' unrivaled No. 1 receiver. No other player averages more than 28 receiving yards per game.
The defense (32.4 ppg) has been one of the SEC's worse, as only Tennessee allows more points per game. One of the unit's biggest problems is that it can't get off the field on third down, allowing opponents to convert 55 percent of their third down attempts.
Avery Williamson has been a tackling machine with 95 total stops. J.D. Harmon has a pair of interceptions, and Collin Ukwu leads the team with four sacks.
Vanderbilt should not take this conference road game for granted, especially considering Kentucky took Georgia to the wire a few weeks ago in Lexington (29-24). The Wildcats will play with pride in front of their home fans, but they are clearly a team in disarray at the moment, and the Commodores will take advantage and move above .500 for the first time all season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vanderbilt 30, Kentucky 20
10/31 10:37:39 ET