Mark Stoops and Vanderbilt have a hot and cold relationship.
In the first five meetings of Stoops’ Kentucky tenure, he’s taken some embarrassing losses and handed out blowouts. Stoops is 3-2 vs. the Commodores, an accurate reflection of the overall series. UK currently leads 44-42-4. A win Saturday night would be UK’s first three-win stretch over Vandy since 04-07.
As you look ahead to tonight’s game, take a moment to look back on the good and bad from the last five years vs. Vandy.
2013: Vandy 22, UK 6
The Cats scored first, but it was all downhill from there. The extra point following JoJo Kemp’s touchdown was blocked and returned for two points. UK surrendered a touchdown just before half to trail by three. After a scoreless third quarter, the Commodores methodically chewed up the clock and moved the ball down the field for three more scores. The win made Vanderbilt bowl eligible for the third straight year and helped vault James Franklin to Penn State.
2014: UK 17, Vandy 7
Kentucky’s defense picked off three passes and held the Vanderbilt offense scoreless (their only TD was a pick six) in forgettable game at Commonwealth Stadium.
2015: Vandy 21, UK 17
It’s arguably the worst loss of the Mark Stoops era. A win would make Kentucky bowl eligible, but the Cats could not get out of their own way.
Drew Barker was inserted into the lineup to inject some energy into an offense that failed on fourth down twice at the goal line. Barker threw a touchdown pass, then a pick six that gave Vanderbilt a lead. As time ticked off before halftime, Vandy took a 21-10 lead on this trick play. It’s not the last time that play doomed Kentucky.
It got even worse after the game. When asked about what went wrong on the trick play, D.J. Eliot said, “It’s football stuff, you wouldn’t understand.”
2016: UK 20, Vandy 13
Stephen Johnson did Stephen Johnson things to get Kentucky a crucial SEC win at home. A year after the Cats couldn’t convert on fourth and short, Johnson made a play with his legs on fourth down to setup an Austin MacGinnis field goal that gave UK a seven-point lead with 1:30 to play. Forced to throw into the end zone, Kyle Shurmur’s final pass sailed just over the receivers’ hands to end the game.
2017: UK 44, Vandy 21
Kyle Shurmur entered the game with three interceptions on the season. Kentucky picked off the Vanderbilt quarterback four times in one of the most fun blowouts of the Mark Stoops era. The blowout at Mizzou in 2016 was fun, but this one gets the edge because of Benny Snell’s record-setting performance. He became the first UK running back to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons while creating a new career rushing touchdown record.