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Can Vanderbilt — which has best team Derek Mason has had — beat Vols for a fourth straigh year?

Mark Stoops’ Cats need to be able to beat Vanderbilt. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Vanderbilt has been able to do one thing that the Kentucky football program just can’t seem to do — beat Tennessee three times in a row.

The Cats have finished second in the SEC the last two seasons and finally did beat Florida last year. But the last three seasons, Vanderbilt has beat in-state rival Tennessee every year.

What has that meant to the Commodores?

“It simply means that we’re relevant, okay, in the SEC East conversation,” Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. “I think for us, time and time again, it’s been about trying to make sure that we could keep up with that program, you know, up the road, but there’s a big — there’s a big, you know, combat zone going on on the SEC East side of the conference, and right now, you know, looking at Tennessee, where they’re at, Jeremy Pruitt’s done a good job, but for us, we’ve got to continue to make sure that we just don’t focus on Tennessee, we focus on winning games in our conference.”

That’s what Mason said Thursday at the SEC Media Days. However, what he said that Kentucky fans should pay attention to came next.

“I believe right now this is the best football team that I’ve had. I believe Tennessee is making a move, going to make their program better,” Mason said.

“But the reality is, for us, it will be about what happens in 2019, not what happened in ’16, ’17, and ’18.”

He’s right about the reality is now but saying this is the best Vandy team he’s had might not be the best news for the Cats. Kentucky needs to be able to beat Vanderbilt to keep its momentum going and has to play in Nashville this year.

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