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Kentucky climbs in rankings, finally favored to win SEC game

Kentucky’s defense is fourth nationally in scoring defense. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

For the first time this season, Kentucky is favored by the Las Vegas oddsmakers to win a Southeastern Conference football game.

Kentucky opened as a 13-point favorite over Vanderbilt for Saturday night’s game at Kroger Field. The Cats are 3-1 in SEC play but were the underdog against Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina — all games UK won — as well as Texas A&M — a game UK lost on the road in overtime.

The Cats also moved up in the national rankings despite having a bye week. Kentucky is up to 14th in the Associated Press top 25 — a jump of four spots — thanks to eight ranked teams losing last week. Kentucky climbed from 20th to 17th in the coaches’ poll.

Georgia took a big hit in the poll as it dropped from second to eighth after losing on the road 36-16 to LSU. Kentucky will host Georgia Nov. 3.

Georgia and Florida are both 4-1 in SEC play while Kentucky is 3-1. Georgia and Florida have this week off before playing Oct. 27 in Jacksonville. Kentucky hosts Vanderbilt Saturday night and then plays Oct. 27 at Missouri.

If Kentucky wins out, it will win the SEC East. If Florida beats Georgia and wins out, the Cats have to do that to win. If Georgia beats Florida, the Cats could still win the SEC East with a second loss as long as they Georgia because they would own the tie-breaking win over both Florida and Georgia.

Kentucky’s offense has just one touchdown in the last six quarters even though Benny Snell ranks eighth nationally in rushing and first in the SEC at 116.5 yards per game. He also has eight touchdowns.

Vanderbilt is last in the league in scoring at just 25.4 points a game and will face a Kentucky defense that is fourth nationally allowing just 13.8 points per game. Kentucky is second in the SEC — and 11th nationally — in total defense at 304.8 yards per game. Linebacker Josh Allen continues to lead the SEC in tackles for loss with 10.5.

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