Kentucky opens as a two-score favorite at Vanderbilt

On3 imageby:Jack Pilgrim09/17/23
Clark Lea
© Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

Vegas isn’t expecting a conference hangover for the Kentucky Wildcats to open SEC play. Sitting at 3-0 with wins over Ball State, Eastern Kentucky and Akron — some prettier than others — Mark Stoops’ squad will travel to Nashville as a two-score favorite.

As the college football world moves on to next week’s slate of games, the Wildcats have opened as 13.5-point favorites in early lines. It’s the fourth consecutive game Kentucky will open as multi-score favorites after closing at -25 vs. Ball State, -35 vs. EKU and -25 vs. Akron.

The Wildcats beat the spread against the Cardinals and Zips while falling well short against the Colonels. As for point totals, the over hit in the opener (49) while the under hit in wins two and three (62.5 and 48.5).

What can fans expect next Saturday? ESPN’s matchup predictor gives the Wildcats a 78.5% chance to win at home, with kickoff scheduled for noon ET on SEC Network.

Vanderbilt sees early ups and downs

Vanderbilt is currently averaging 400.3 yards per game — 288.8 through the air and 111.5 on the ground — while giving up 389.0 yards per contest. The defense is allowing 241 passing yards and 147.5 rushing yards per game. Kentucky is putting up almost identical production offensively — 406.0 yards per game with 285.0 passing and 121.0 rushing — while shutting things down on the other side of the football. The Wildcats are allowing just 281.7 yards per game through three weeks with 210.7 passing and 71.0 rushing.

Led by head coach Clark Lea, the Commodores sit comfortably near the bottom of the SEC standings — just one of two teams in the conference with two losses. Vanderbilt opened the season with back-to-back wins over Hawai’i (35-28) and Alabama A&M (47-13) before taking consecutive losses at Wake Forest (36-20) and at UNLV (40-37).

Individually, Vanderbilt quarterback AJ Swann is off to a solid start, throwing for 1,062 yards on 57.1% completion with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions through four games. He was briefly injured (elbow) in the team’s most recent loss at UNLV, but returned in the third quarter and finished the game.

Elsewhere, Will Sheppard leads the Commodores with 314 receiving yards and six touchdowns while Jayden McGowan has added 295 yards and London Humphreys racking up 266 yards and three scores. On the ground, Patrick Smith has rushed for 200 yards and a touchdown while Sedrick Alexander has added 132 yards and two scores.

How will the Wildcats do on the road to open SEC play?

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