Red Zone Touchdowns — Vanderbilt has scored on 21 of its 24 trips to the red zones. Not once have they settled for a field goal, probably because kicker Tommy Openshaw is 2-for-6 this season. Last week against Ole Miss, the two teams’ red zone tendencies completely flipped; that needs to happen again this week.
Protected QB — Kyle Shurmur has only been sacked 11 times, third best in the SEC. Without pressure, Shurmur has taken care of the football. He’s only thrown three interceptions in 2017.
Snell Yeah — Benjamin is on a path to elite, uncharted territory in UK history. Snell needs only 103 rushing yards to surpass 1,000 for his second consecutive season. Even though Vandy held WKU to -6 rushing yards last week, the Commodores’ defense has allowed 320 rushing ypg to five SEC opponents. Are those numbers inflated because of Bama and Georgia? Yes, but South Carolina and Ole Miss also carved up the Dores.
Balanced Attacks — Each offense strives to be as balanced as possible. To achieve that goal, Vanderbilt has relied more on Kyle Shurmur than Ralph Webb with a 52.1/47.9 pass/run ratio. The Cats have flipped the script, using Benny Snell’s back to carry the team and Stephen Johnson’s legs when necessary. Kentucky runs the ball 59.3 percent of the time compare to 40.7 percent through the air.
Hard to Judge — Vanderbilt’s numbers are difficult to decipher because they are a much different team against SEC competition. They have lost all five SEC games; the 7-point loss to South Carolina was the only game decided by single digits. When they aren’t getting smacked down by SEC opponents, they are dominating non-conference foes.
Playing the numbers game is difficult, but three things tell me why this game will be close:
1. UK hasn’t won in Nashville since 2009.
2. Vandy played South Carolina tough, a team with comparable talent to UK.
3. Kentucky wins never come easy.
With all that being said, Cats by 90.