Back in the Top 25

Kentucky enjoyed its most productive weekend in a while, and it didn't even play a game.

Despite coming off two consecutive losses, the Wildcats moved back into the rankings at No. 24 during their bye week and look to stay in the poll with a victory Saturday at Vanderbilt.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Kentucky -3.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 92% of bets for this game have been placed on Kentucky -3.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Kentucky (6-3, 2-3 SEC) had plenty of time to regroup after a disappointing 31-14 homecoming loss to Mississippi State on Oct. 27 that dropped the Wildcats from the No. 14 spot right out of the poll. That came a week after Kentucky, which was ranked as high as No. 8, fell 45-37 to Florida.

The Wildcats, who beat then-No. 1 LSU 43-37 in triple overtime on Oct. 13 for their most recent victory, now face consecutive road games at Vanderbilt (5-4, 2-4) - which is one win from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 1982 - and 10th-ranked Georgia before closing the regular season at home versus No. 22 Tennessee.

"Having an extra week to think about our loss to Mississippi State has really been eating at people," defensive end Dominic Lewis said. "After you lose you are always ready to get out there and play the next game. I think all the rest will pay off."

While the loss to Florida was disappointing, falling to a Mississippi State team that had two SEC wins in the last two seasons was devastating for the Wildcats, who have lost three of four since starting 5-0.

Kentucky was held to its fewest points of the season and turned the ball over six times against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State further exploited a Wildcats defense that allows 192.7 yards per game on the ground by rushing for 200.

Wildcats quarterback Andre Woodson likely took himself out of the Heisman Trophy race after going 24-for-42 for 230 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, one week after throwing five TDs and no interceptions versus Florida.

"The unfortunate thing is when we stepped on the pedal in the Mississippi State game, we ran out of gas, there wasn't any gas in the tank," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "So we just need to focus on one thing, and that's Vanderbilt. We need it."

A fourth straight victory over Vanderbilt would give Kentucky seven wins in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1976-77.

Woodson, who is averaging a league-best 270.1 passing yards per game, was 29-for-42 with four touchdowns and no interceptions in Kentucky's 38-26 win over the Commodores last Nov. 11.

Kentucky running back Rafael Little is expected to return after missing the last three games with a thigh bruise. Little, who has rushed for 682 yards on 107 carries, ran for 132 yards and caught eight passes for 114 yards versus Vanderbilt last season.

The Wildcats, though, will be without starting safety Marcus McClinton for the rest of the regular season because of a fractured scapula.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, is trying to regroup after a 49-22 loss at Florida last Saturday. The Commodores rushed for just 93 yards, turned the ball over three times and gave up 498 total yards - their most since allowing 597 versus Kentucky last season.

"They just took it to us. They whipped us," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said.

"We talked about the Florida game and put it behind us so that we can get ready for Kentucky. They will be a great challenge for us. We'll see what we can do."

Vanderbilt will likely need to get receiver Earl Bennett involved to help snap its losing streak against Kentucky.

Bennett, among the nation's leaders with 59 receptions, had just five catches for 31 yards versus Florida. He did have 11 receptions for 220 yards and a touchdown against the Wildcats last season.

The Commodores beat then-No. 6 South Carolina 17-6 on Oct. 13 for their lone victory in three games against ranked teams this season.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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