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This Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats will visit Nashville to play the Vanderbilt Commodores in a game that will be significant for both teams. Both the Cats and the ‘Dores sit at 4-5 currently and a win for either puts them one win away from bowl eligibility. However for the loser, that will mean they would have to win their final two games to be bowl bound, and that would be a tall order for either team. Up to this point both teams have had good and bad games this season although for very different reasons.
In UK’s case the issue has been an inconsistent and a stagnant offense that has few and far between break-out moments (Jacksonville St. & Ole Miss). For Vandy, the issue has been similar but primary problem was at QB where Sr. Larry Smith started the season but after 5 games, he has given way to the emerging Jordan Rodgers, brother of NFL quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. While Jordan may not quite be on the level of Aaron, he has given the Commodores some moxie and swagger that they can feed off of.
For the Cats, a change at QB last week also seemed to give the team a boost; Morgan Newton appears to be out of the starting role for the remainder of this season as freshman QB Maxwell Smith has given the offense new life. But Smith is not the only reason the Cat’s offense has looked better recently; RB Cozik Williams has posted two 100+ yard efforts in three starts and he looks like the spark the Cats needed in the run department. But when you examine this match-up, the key will be defense and which one can impose their will the best. The Cats are better against the run than the pass where as the Commodores are the opposite as their secondary is full of “ball-hawks” when the ball is in the air. Vandy would love to establish RB Zack Stacy early on just to take some pressure off of Rodgers. If he can’t get going (i.e. against Florida last week) then that means Rodgers would have to do more with not only his arm, but his feet as well.
The Cats would love to start the game off with balance, get Williams some early carries but also get Smith some early, easy completions. With so much riding on this game, it easy to see this one being a close game with the outcome being decided in the final stanza. The ‘Dores are an early 12 – 13 point favorite……I say it will be closer than that though. I think the Cats cover the spread but Vandy gets the win in a 28-26 cliff-hanger.
LEX18 is reporting that UK guard Stacey Poole was involved in a minor car wreck around 2:30 a.m. this morning. Poole, who is taking time to think whether or not he wants to be on a team chasing number 8 was a passenger in a black Escalade. Poole and the driver were both taken to the hospital as a pre-caution, but police describe the injuries as minor.
If Poole is going to stay on the team, he might want to consider taking it to the house a little earlier on the night before game day.
Kentucky 30 – Ole Miss 13: Maxwell Smith made his first start at QB a memorable one and UK used a 20 point 4th quarter to secure its 4th victory of the season, keeping alive its slim bowl hopes. Kentucky (4-5) used Smith’s passing attack (283 passing yds & 2 TDs) along with the hard running of Cozhik Williams (25 carries for 111 yds & 2 TDs) to subdue a game but overmatched Rebels (2-7) squad. With that loss, Ole Miss is mathematically eliminated from bowl consideration and with that, coach Houston Nutt along with Ole Miss A.D. both announced they would step down, effective the end of the season. QB Randal Mackey had a decent game for the Rebels (197 passing yds, 1 TD & 1 INT) but in the 2nd half, the offense seemed to stall. The Cats also got a big game from WR Matt Roark, 7 grabs for 116 yds; the surprising offensive output combined with a strong defensive effort, particularly in the 2nd half has UK feeling good as they prepare to travel to Nashville to play the Vanderbilt Commodores this weekend.
Florida 26 – Vanderbilt 20: Florida owned the first half as they took a 17-0 lead into the locker room. The 2nd half belonged to the Commodores (4-5) but there bid for a win in “the Swamp” fell short. The Gators (5-4) snapped a four game losing streak but they are far from being were their fans are used to seeing them. Jeff Demps ran for 158 yds & 2 TDs and QB John Brantley passed for 173 yds. But the Gators do not have the same bite that we expect from their offense. While the defense looked good in the first half, they were very sub-par in the 2nd as Commodores riddled the secondary with pin-point passing from Jordan Rodgers (297 passing yds & 2 TD). The Gators were stiff against the run as they held RB Zack Stacy to 49 yds on the ground but the pass defense will have to improve as they prepare to travel to Columbia, SC to take on former head coach, Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks.
Georgia 63 – Mew Mexico St. 16: Mark Richt’s ball club had an easy time of it on Saturday as they ran out early and fast on the visiting Aggies to the tune of a 49-7 halftime lead. Georgia (7-2) QB, Aaron Murray passed for 238 yds & 5 TDS, all in the first half as the Bulldogs prepare to host Auburn this weekend. Because of the loss by South Carolina on Saturday, the Bulldogs control their own destiny as they look to claim the SEC East Title.
Tennessee 24 – Middle Tenn. St. 0: For the 1st time since QB Tyler Bray was injured, the Volunteers (4-5) won a game, although it was not pretty. Third-string QB, J. Worley passed for 291 yds & 1 TD but the Vols used a stingy defense to prevent this game from even being in doubt. All of the scoring came in the 1st half and that was all that the Vols needed. The Blue Raiders were held to less than 250 offensive yds as they just were not able to put together any offensive consistency. Tennessee will visit Arkansas Saturday and a loss in Fayetteville puts them in real danger of not making it to a bowl this season.
Arkansas 44 – South Carolina 28: In a game that was back and forth for a while, the Razorbacks eventually showed they had too many weapons on offense for even the stingy Gamecock “D” to contain. Arkansas (8-1) QB, Tyler Wilson threw for 299 yds & 2 TDs while WR Jarius Wright had 4 catches for 103 and both of those passing touchdowns. RB Derrick Johnson also gave the Razorbacks good balance on the ground as he ran for 86 yds on 15 carries. For South Carolina (7-2), QB Connor Shaw was less than effective (128 passing yds & 1 INT) as he looked very badly for a second consecutive outing. Without the threat of RB Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecock offense has fallen off and defenses can now afford to double WR Alshon Jeffery on the outside.
Mississippi St. 55 – Tennessee-Martin 17: The Bulldogs seemed to have found some momentum after beating Kentucky 2 weekends ago. State (5-4) rolled up over 300 yds of offense, RB Vick Ballard 102 & 2 TDs on the ground and QB Tyler Russell passed for 183 yds with 1 TD. While State’s defense only gave up 17 points, they surrendered over 300 yds of offense to Tenn-Martin. They will have to do better than that on defense this Saturday as they host an angry Alabama squad. State is just one win away from being bowl eligible but I don’t believe they will get that win this weekend.
LSU 9 – Alabama 6 OT: In a game that was much anticipated in the SEC and throughout the nation, #1 and #2 in the BCS did battle in Tuscaloosa, AL. Throughout the entire game, the defenses prevailed for both coaches but in the end, special teams told the story; LSU’s kicker was 3 of 3 and Alabama’s kicker was 2 of 6 including a miss in overtime. LSU (9-0) QB Jarrett Lee never found a rhythm in this big game and eventually was pulled after throwing picks on consecutive pass attempts. So for LSU, the theme was try not beat yourself on offense and let the defense when the game. For the Crimson Tide (8-1), the thought was much the same but they had the better offense coming into the game. RB Trent Richardson managed 89 tough yards on 23 carries but was held out of the end zone. QB A.J. McCarron threw for 199 yds but everything seemed to be between the 20’s as he could not get them into the end-zone when they got near the red-zone. The Tide out gained the Tigers but when you miss 4 FGs in a game like this, you will not be the victor. With only Western KY and Ole Miss remaining before Thanksgiving, it is all but guaranteed that LSU’s last hurdle to the SEC Title game will be that 11/25 match-up with Arkansas. The Razorbacks always seem to play LSU tough and with all of the wide-outs they have and the skill level they possess, the Tigers will have to be on guard for a possible upset the day after Thanksgiving.
(Video Courtesy CoachCalVideos YouTube)
This Saturday evening, it will be the Kentucky Wildcats playing host to the Ole Miss Rebels in a game that has little if any bearing on the SEC race in either division. This game also has little if any bowl ramifications as neither team is expected to make a late run to get there; in fact the Rebels (2-6) would have to win out the rest of the way as one more loss mathematically eliminates them from a bowl. For the Cats (3-5), all they can afford is one more loss and with Georgia, Vandy and Tennessee still left to play, beating Ole Miss is critical to keeping their slim bowl hopes alive. For both teams the season has been disappointing, especially for Houston Nutt and the Rebels. While Ole Miss knew the challenges within the conference would be tough to overcome, they had hoped to at least do well in their non-conference slate. But an opening week, 4th qtr. breakdown led to a loss in Oxford against BYU and that would prove to be a crucial loss.
They did manage to go on the road and beat Fresno St. in what may have been their best offensive performance all year but that performance would not sustain itself the next few games. For the Cats the season started off shaky but at least on a winning note, 2-0. But since then, things have been down hill, starting with the offense but now the defense is beginning to show signs of coming apart. Last week against Mississippi St., the Cats were unable to stop the run and that bolds well for an Ole Miss team who relies on their ground attack because they lack any “punch” in the air. Like Kentucky, Ole Miss’s defense seems to be starting to show signs of a decline and for both teams, it starts with struggling offenses. Ole Miss changed QBs the week of the Fresno St. game and the offense has been much improved since.
Kentucky will make a change at QB this week as well as Maxwell Smith has been inserted as the starter for Saturday. Smith looked rather comfortable last week in place of the injured Morgan Newton and he at least gave UK hope in a losing effort against Mississippi State. The “line” in Vegas pretty much has this game “even” with maybe UK a 1 point favorite. There is a lot of speculation that Houston Nutt will be fired at the end of the season and that has not helped ease things in Oxford.
Joker Phillips seems to have the support of Mitch Barnhart, at least for one more season. I say the Cats have a little more stability and with a new starting QB, maybe a little more spark. Give me the Cats to get to win #4 on the season in hard fought contest, UK 24 – Ole Miss 20.