LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There once was a time not too long ago that Vanderbilt was all that kept Kentucky out of the SEC East basement. Between 1996 and 2010, the Wildcats won 12 of 15 games against the Commodores.
But Vanderbilt has won the last two meetings and they have been a program on the rise. Coming off a the school's first nine-win season in nearly a century and first-ever final ranking in the top 25, Vandy has won two of its last three, beating league powers Georgia and Florida in the same season for the first time. The Commodores (5-4, 2-4) are one win away from locking up a third straight post-season berth under third-year coach James Franklin as they host the Wildcats (2-7, 0-5) Saturday in Nashville.
"I think they've been just a good football team across the board," said UK coach Mark Stoops. "Not flashy in any area. Just good, sound, fundamental football team. They play very smart. They're a good team. I think they've been very efficient at quarterback. They have the wideout that's lighting it up, Jordan Matthews is one heck of a player, and defensively they play very hard. Just like last week (at Florida) they made some great plays in certain situations that set them up to win the game. They've just been a good, solid football team."
Stoops has seen signs of improvement from his Wildcats. Close losses on the road at South Carolina and Mississippi State and a blowout win of Alabama State. But a one-sided loss to Missouri last Saturday was a step-back and the frustrations continue for Stoops and for the fan base.
"Yeah, I understand," said the first-year head coach. "I understand their frustration is what I say. I appreciate your support. I appreciate them being there. I think they've been very fair. I know they're frustrated because they haven't been here nine, ten months. They've been here nine, ten years or 20 years or 30 years and they want to see things changed. I recognize that and I understand that.
The only thing I ask them is to continue to stay with this team because, again, I'm not ever one to make excuses. It's just a fact that we have some work to do.
I've never said since day one that I was going to come in here and change it overnight. I promised to work extremely hard, and the players will work extremely hard to build this program the right way to get better. That's what we're going to continue to do. I appreciate the people that have stuck with us, and I know it's tough. It takes a lot of people to be successful, and I think there are a lot of people pulling in the same direction, and we need to continue to have that."
Saturday's game kicks off at 12:21 pm in Nashville.
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