Benny Snell Jr. rushed for 169 yards, including the go-ahead 7-yard run with 8:04 remaining that helped No. 14 Kentucky pull away for a 14-7 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
The Wildcats (6-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) clinched bowl eligibility for a third consecutive season and stayed in contention in the East division with their third straight victory over the Commodores (3-5, 0-4). But it took linebacker Kash Daniel’s fourth-down forced fumble that Quinton Bohanna recovered at the 20 midway through the fourth quarter to jump-start Kentucky from game-long inconsistency.
Snell took control from there, rushing 10 times for 74 yards on the drive that ended with his ninth TD run. The junior rushed 32 times for his 16th career 100-yard game on a blustery night that Kentucky had to work hard to outgain Vanderbilt 298-284.
Daniel’s play was one of four forced four fumbles with two recoveries, the second by Mike Edwards with 1:04 left that sealed the outcome
Vanderbilt played without leading rusher Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who did not make the trip after getting hurt last week against Florida. The Commodores converted a first-quarter takeaway into Kyle Shurmur’s 29-yard TD pass to C.J. Bolar, but that was their only lead as they rushed for just 68 yards.
Kentucky’s status remains intact despite winning ugly as a two-TD favorite.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores again got the jump on another ranked school, converting a turnover into a 29-yard touchdown pass for the game’s first score. They had other decent plays but were inconsistent and couldn’t run the ball. Those turnovers also hurt.
Kentucky: After insisting all week that there would be no post-bye hangover, the Wildcats were sluggish in nearly all phases. Consecutive turnovers and poor tackling allowed Vandy to grab the early edge. The defense stiffened up some and the offense began imposing its will well enough to tie the game, but costly penalties after halftime thwarted chances to put it away until Bohanna’s fumble recovery.
Vanderbilt visits Arkansas on Saturday, seeking to end a three-game slide in the first series meeting since 2011.
Kentucky visits Missouri on Saturday, seeking its fourth straight win against the Tigers.