UK looks to start second half of season with win against Vanderbilt


Kentucky running back Jojo Kemp drives the ball down the field at Commonwealth on Saturday, October 8, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 20-13. Photo by Lydia Emeric | Staff 

Pranavdeep Singh

Looking to bounce back from a tough overtime loss against Texas A&M, the No. 18 ranked Kentucky Wildcats (5-1, 3-1 SEC) will return home to face the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-3, 0-2 SEC) at Kroger Field. This will be the teams’ 91st meeting.

The Cats, who opened the season undefeated starting 5-0, lost 20-14 in a close overtime game against the Texas A&M Aggies. Two of the Commodores’ losses have come from top ranked teams like Notre Dame and Georgia.

The Cats have won the last two times they met the Commodores. This is one of the oldest rivalries in college football with the first matchup being held in 1896 in Nashville. The two teams were involved in the founding of the SEC.

The Commodores are led by senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur, son of the Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. Shurmur, who set a school record for passing touchdowns the year before with 26, has thrown for nine touchdowns this season. Junior receiver Kalija Lipscomb has 45 receptions, six of the touchdowns and 496 yards on the season.

On the ground, the Commodores are led by junior running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Vaughn is averaging almost seven yards a carry and five touchdowns on the season. The Commodores also have 400 yards and two touchdowns between backup running backs Khari Blasingame and Jamauri Wakefield.

The Commodore defense has standout players like linebackers Josh Smith and Kenny Hebert, who have five combined sacks. Sophomore Herbert had three sacks in the first four games. The defense, however, has allowed almost 400 total yards this season, and more than 150 rush yards. Georgia had more than 200 rushing yards against the Commodore defense.

In 2017, the Wildcats won 44-21. Shurmur was coming into that game with only three interceptions on the season, but threw four picks against the Cats. Benny Snell had 116 yards and three touchdowns with Sihiem King adding two more.

The history between the two teams is rich, and Kentucky players, fans and coaches alike will look forward to bouncing back and seeking another win on homecoming weekend after their first loss of the season against the Aggies.