LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky was shut out against Vanderbilt for the first time since 1968, a 40-0 loss Saturday that left the Wildcats one game away from a winless Southeastern Conference schedule.
Vanderbilt's 40-point margin was its largest over the Wildcats in 96 years. The two teams have now played 85 times, and Vanderbilt has won 40. Only two of those wins were by wider margins: 45-0 in 1916 and 50-0 in 1897.
"There's some hurt young men in there right now," Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said, referring to the Wildcats' locker room. "No doubt about that. They're definitely not proud of the way they performed today. I shouldn't say they; we performed. It was not a very good performance."
Kentucky (1-9, 0-7) couldn't stop Vanderbilt's offense in the first half — the Commodores scored touchdowns on four of five first-half drives — but Kentucky's miscues on special teams didn't leave Vanderbilt with much field to cover.
Quarterback Jordan Rodgers completed 18 of 29 passes for 220 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and three different Commodores running backs scored rushing touchdowns against the overmatched Kentucky defense.
Among Kentucky's biggest mistakes on special teams were two penalties for interfering with the catch on punts on consecutive second-quarter drives, both of which led to Vanderbilt touchdowns.
The Commodores (5-4, 3-3) needed no more than 4 minutes, 19 seconds on any of their four first-half touchdown drives.
"I felt like we were ready," said Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson, who led all players with 20 tackles. "We had a good week of practice. I don't know. It seems like it just went downhill from the first snap. We just got to go back and adjust, and do what we can. Anything."
It began from the opening kickoff. Rodgers led his team 71 yards on 11 plays, ending the drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews.
Kentucky missed an early scoring opportunity on a 16-play, 49-yard drive that consumed 7:10. After converting a fourth-down play at the Vanderbilt 28-yard line, the Wildcats were pushed back, and Craig McIntosh missed a 50-yard field goal attempt on fourth-and-15.
The Wildcats only reached the red zone once in the game. In the third quarter, sophomore safety Ashely Lowery intercepted a Rodgers pass in Vanderbilt territory and returned it to the Commodores 25-yard line, and a personal foul on the return advanced Kentucky to the 12.
But the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs in four plays.
Kentucky's two quarterbacks, freshmen Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles, combined to finish 13-of-35 for 159 yards passing. In all, Vanderbilt outgained the Wildcats 447-260 and had converted 9 of 11 third-down opportunities at one point.
"We've had games like this, so I felt like I've been here before," Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter said. "We didn't stop the run as well as we needed to, and we didn't stop the pass as well as we needed to. Some of it is certainly attributed to third downs, so it's kind of unfortunately the same song and dance this week. We've been making some progress in areas, but we did not show a great deal of improvement today."