LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — In the new world of college football where athletes can endorse products, Hallmark should connect with Vanderbilt as quickly as possible because the Commodores remain the Get Well card of the Southeastern Conference.
The scoreboard at Vanderbilt Stadium reflected that Saturday night as Kentucky raced to a 28-point halftime lead and defeated the Commodores 34-17.
"We knew we were the better team and we had to go out there and prove it," said UK defensive end Josh Paschal. "Plus we hadn't haven't had any wins for what seems like a month."
The victory bumped Kentucky to 7-3 and ended the Wildcats’ three-game losing streak. With Tennessee losing to No. 1 Georgia Saturday, the Wildcats clinched second place in the East Division of the SEC with a 5-3 league record.
How dominant was Kentucky?
The Wildcats did not have a third-down snap on offense for the first 25 minutes and first three drives. Quarterback Will Levis completed his first eight passes. The Wildcats had a defensive touchdown on 31-yard interception. They scored on their first four possessions and did not punt until the second half.
UK out-gained Vandy, 413-266, averaging better than 7 yards per offensive snap.
Levis finished 14 of 22 for 177 yards with two touchdowns and an interception
Wan’Dale Robinson scored the first touchdown on a 6-yard pass from Levis. Izayah Cummings opened the second quarter with a 22-yard TD reception near the back of the end zone.
The third TD was the 31-yard interception return by Jalen Geiger in his first career start.
"I never had a pick six that easy in my life," Geiger said. "I saw the quarterback throw the ball and I just broke and ran it to the end zone."
Halfback Chris Rodriguez scored his eighth touchdown this season on a 5-yard run in the second quarter. With 114 yards on 16 carries, Rodriguez celebrated his sixth 100-yard rushing game this season and pushed his season total over 1,000 yards.
The second half was not as sexy for Kentucky. The Wildcats failed to score another touchdown and were outscored, 14-3. The Commodores outgained UK, 166-35 in the second half while forcing the Wildcats into a pair of punts. UK struggled to contain Vandy quarterback Mike Wright, who threw a pair of TD passes.
"I think we kind of lost our energy," Geiger said.
"They did a good job of converting on some third downs," UK coach Mark Stoops said. "They weren't able to get any chunk plays but they did a good job of just converting some plays."
Here’s the next thing to know about Kentucky: The Wildcats will face less of a test next week during their final home game. New Mexico State will visit. The Aggies have been outscored by 181 points while losing 9 of 10 games, including a 59-3 thumping at Alabama Saturday.
Then Kentucky will come to Cardinal Stadium Nov. 27 to try and defeat Louisville for the third consecutive time.
"After the last four weeks it felt like forever since we got a win," Levis said. "We need to get more in the next few weeks."
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