You know the feeling when you’re so confident that you begin to worry because you shouldn’t be so confident? That’s me right now. I think Kentucky bludgeons Vanderbilt tomorrow to officially earn bowl eligibility and take one more step forward toward SEC East glory. I know Matt said on the show today he’ll be surprised if it’s not close in the second half, but I’ll be shocked if it is. I have the Cats winning, 34-6.
The reason behind my optimism is Vanderbilt can’t stop the run and Kentucky can run, run, run. Derek Mason knows his team’s weakness plays right into the Cats’ hands, too. Earlier this week he said, “Everything starts with stopping the run. We have had a hard time with that… if we allow this team to run on us, they will bleed the clock on us.”
And bleed the clock, they will. Kentucky has its starting center and left tackle back from injury, and everyone in home team blue will have fresh legs after the bye week. Throw in the fact Benny Snell has some ground to make up after a quiet game at Texas A&M and I think it’s going to be a very long day for the Vanderbilt defense, which ranks 95th in America in stopping the run. It’s also a defense that is exhausted after consecutive games against Georgia and Florida the last two weeks; the Dawgs and Gators combined for 1,136 total yards in those two contests.
Defensively, Kentucky’s will be the best Vanderbilt has seen all season, and again, they’re well-rested. Kentucky has only allowed 14 points per game and Vanderbilt’s offense isn’t anything special to give us a reason to think they’ll put up points. With the exception of one wide receiver (Lipscomb), a reliable tight end (Pinkney) and one running back (Vaughn) that can occasionally break off a big play, there isn’t much happening. Kyle Shurmur isn’t any better in his 11th season than he was in his first.
So outside of Kentucky beating Kentucky (which could happen, I guess), I don’t see any reason to think Vanderbilt will be in this game. If the Cats can avoid a sluggish, post-bye week start, they’ll be fine.
Tell me I’m wrong.