By LARRY VAUGHT
Who would have thought when this season started that seven games into the season UK could be 6-1, ranked 12th in the Associated Press poll and fans/players would be unhappy?
Yet that is the mood of many after UK beat Vanderbilt “only” 14-7 Saturday night.
The Cats needed an 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter where Benny Snell ran 10 times for 74 yards and the 14-7 cushion was all the UK defense needed.
Coach Mark Stoops told his team after the game that it was on its way to “moving up into the top 10” after being ranked 14th last week. Fans worried more over the lack of a passing attack — UK had just 18 yards passing against Vanderbilt.
But Kentucky did move up to No. 12 in the AP poll and is 14th in the coaches poll going into Saturday afternoon’s game at Missouri. At 4-1 in SEC play, Kentucky still controls its destiny as wins over Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee would put UK into the SEC championship game. Kentucky also likely would be Citrus Bowl bound if it can finish 10-2.
Junior linebacker Kash Daniel, who broke his left hand in the win over Vandy, said ratings were nice but not a point of emphasis.
“I’m just worried about Mizzou now,” Daniel said after the game. “It would be cool to see the number by our name being (better) than last week. But ultimately being ranked is great and all, but anybody can be beaten on any day.”
Snell said UK is still “hungry” for more against Missouri, which scored 63 points against Memphis last week and has a win over Purdue — the team that thumped No. 2 Ohio State Saturday.
Linebacker Josh Allen had another huge game against Vanderbilt and continues to demonstrate he is UK’s best defensive player since Art Still in 1977.
“I came back for situations like this. I had a lot to prove,” Allen, who considered putting his name into the NFL draft, said.”I told myself coming back this year I wanted to be more effective in the game, be more of a playmaker and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
He has eight sacks and 12.5 tackles in seven games.
“We wanted to be one of the best teams in the country,” Allen said. “Right now, we have a lot of short-term goals to get to the long-term goals so we’re going to keep winning and keep doing what we do.”