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November 2, 2012

UK looks to snap seven-game losing skid Saturday

KENTUCKY (1-8, 0-6 SEC)
Coach: Joker Phillips
Record: 12-22 (4-18 SEC) in three seasons at UK, overall
Last game: Georgia 29, Kentucky 24
Next game: Samford, Nov. 17
Roster | Depth chart
Coach: James Franklin
Record: 10-11 (4-9 SEC) in two seasons at Vanderbilt and overall.
Last game: Vanderbilt 49, Massachusetts 7

Next game: at Ole Miss, Nov. 10
Roster | Depth chart
Game/Series Information
Game Information
Site: Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
TV: ESPNU (Clay Matvick play-by-play, Matt Stinchcomb analyst, Allison Williams sideline)
Radio: UK IMG Sports Network (Tom Leach play-by-play, Jeff Piecoro analysis; Dick Gabriel sideline); XM 201; Sirius 123.
Internet: Audio | Video
Favorite: Vanderbilt by 7.5

Series Information
Series record: Kentucky leads 41-39-4
At Lexington: Kentucky leads 22-14-2
Coaches' records:Phillips 1-1 vs. Vanderbilt; Franklin 1-0 vs. UK

Last meeting:
Vanderbilt 38, Kentucky 8 (Nov. 12, 2011, in Nashville)
The Commodores hammered Kentucky early, jumping out to a 24-0 lead at halftime. Maxwell Smith completed fewer than half of his passes and UK finished with just 32 rushing yards while finishing 0-12 on third downs. It was the most lopsided win for Vanderbilt over UK since 1969. The win put Vanderbilt within one victory of reaching a bowl, while the Wildcats walked away with their sixth loss and little hope of making the postseason.

Keys to the Game
1. Zac Attack: Vanderbilt tailback Zac Stacy gashed UK for three touchdowns last year, but was injured against UMass last week. He practiced on Thursday and should be good to go. Stacy is No. 5 rusher in the SEC and the key to the Vanderbilt offense. Count on the Commodores to center their gameplan on the ground, and use Stacy in play action to set up deep strikes to Jordan Matthews, who is probably their most explosive player.

2. Pass Poor: There's not much time left for UK's young quarterbacks to grow up, but this might not be the week to do it. Vanderbilt allows just 151 yards per game through the air and has given up four touchdown passes all season. That ranks in the top five in the nation in both categories. Maybe Morgan Newton can help Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow. More likely, UK's passing game will continue to struggle.

3. Chained Down: Vanderbilt has only forced eight turnovers this year, but the defense is still capable of big plays. Three players have seven or more tackles for loss. Moving backwards isn't an option for Kentucky's offense, as only mistake-free football will help the Cats overcome everything stacked against them. If the offense starts committing penalties as it did last week, the defense will have it that much easier.

Staff Predictions
Ben Jones, Staff Writer: Vanderbilt 24, Kentucky 12
Struggling teams need things to go right early to believe they can win. If UK jumps out early and can keep pressure on Vandy, they'll have a real shot. But if the Commodores control the ball and force a couple of mistakes early, UK might revert to the form it showed in the second half against Missouri. The Wildcats' offense is running out of things it does well, and the defense is limited also. Vanderbilt will walk all over UK while stepping towards another bowl game.

T.J. Walker, Staff Writer: Vanderbilt 31, Kentucky 17
The Cats and Commodores' football rivalry is centered around not being last, but unfortunately for UK, Vandy has separated itself from the Wildcats. Talent-wise UK and Vandy are similar, but the Commodores have been more fortunate with injuries. And Vanderbilt is in the midst of a solid season. The Commodores need only two more wins to go bowling, so don't expect them to miss an opportunity Saturday.

Aaron Smith, Staff Writer: Vanderbilt 24, Kentucky 10
If the Wildcats are going to have a chance, it's going to have to be on the ground: the Commodores hold opponents to 151 passing yards per game and have given up only four touchdown passes this year. I think Kentucky's one-dimensional offense gets nothing going until it's too late, and the miserable season continues into the (merciful) bye week.

Brett Dawson, Publisher: Vanderbilt 28, Kentucky 17
The talent gap isn't so wide here that a Kentucky win is out of the question. If the Cast still have the fight they showed the last time they played at Commonwealth Stadium - a hard-fought 29-24 loss to Georgia - an upset isn't out of the question. But given all that Vanderbilt has to play for, the safest bet is for the Commodores to find a way and for UK to stumble to an eighth straight loss.

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