Kentucky–Vanderbilt football rivalry
|First meeting||October 10, 1896
Vanderbilt 6, Kentucky 0
|Latest meeting||November 11, 2017
Kentucky 44, Vanderbilt 21
|All-time series||Kentucky, 44–42–4|
|Largest victory||Kentucky, 53–2 (1978)|
|Longest win streak||Vanderbilt, 9 (1896–1918)|
|Current win streak||Kentucky, 2 (2016–present)|
The Kentucky–Vanderbilt football rivalry is an American college football rivalry between the Kentucky Wildcats football team of the University of Kentucky and Vanderbilt Commodores football team of Vanderbilt University. The rivalry between these two schools, located about 181 miles (291 km) apart, dates to their first meeting in 1896. They are founding members of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and are currently members of the SEC's Eastern Division with a total of 88 meetings. This rivalry is Kentucky's second longest behind Tennessee and Vanderbilt's third behind Ole Miss and Tennessee. Kentucky leads the series 44–42–4.
When the rivalry first started, Kentucky did not score on Vanderbilt until 1921, or beat Vanderbilt until 1939. Kentucky and Vanderbilt have played annually since 1953.
37 of the 89 games have been decided by 7 points or less. Kentucky has shut out Vanderbilt 6 times, while Vanderbilt has shut out Kentucky 15 times, 10 of which were from 1896 to 1920. The rivalry is one of the most evenly matched in the SEC, like the Kentucky–Mississippi State football rivalry.
1916: Stoll Field Dedicated
The obverse side of a historic marker erected at Stoll Field in 2008 recalls the 1916 game: "STOLL FIELD: In 1880 the first college football game ever played in the South was held here at what was eventually named Stoll Field. It was dedicated in 1916 at the Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt game and was named in honor of alumnus and long-term Board of Trustees member Judge Richard C. Stoll. The field was the setting of early football games and an integral part of student life."
1921: Kentucky Scores For First Time
The Wildcats would practice their signals under cover of night and with closed gates, feeling secrecy a matter of importance this week. The Commodores had been pegged as the hardest team on Kentucky's schedule, and it was the most interesting home game for Kentucky fans in some time. One sportswriter would call it "the hardest fought battle that has been staged on the Kentucky gridiron in many a day." Sports writer Bruce Dudley later remarked how the Commodores were outplayed by the Wildcats for three quarters. Kentucky would manage to complete ten of twenty passes, among them quarterback "Bobby" Lavin to Fuller and Fuller to Lavin. Prior to this year's game, Kentucky had never scored on Vanderbilt in all of its history; therefore, something of a blow out had been expected, with Vanderbilt having a distinct advantage in weight. However, The Lexington Herald reported "That Nashville is intensely interested in the outcome of the game is evidenced by the fact that a special wire, giving the game play by play, will be installed at the field and connected with the Nashville papers."
The Commodores' first two touchdowns would come early. After the kickoff went to Kentucky and the Wildcats' Saunders returned the ball to the 30-yard line, a punt was kicked to Vanderbilt; and, after a good return but little gain, the ball was punted back to Kentucky. Lavin fumbled on the return, the ball recovered by Jess Neely on the 10-yard line. On third down after very little on first and second, Frank Godchaux ran in a touchdown around end. Rupert Smith would score the second and third touchdowns for the Commodores.
Following an exchange of punts, Vanderbilt started a drive on Kentucky's 32-yard line. Neely connected with Pink Wade on a 22-yard pass. Rupert Smith would run for a gain of some seven yards. A slight gain by Lynn Bomar was then followed by Smith running around right end for a touchdown. Kentucky's Server kicked the ball into the end zone for a touchback. Alf Sharpe was ejected for slugging, and the Commodores were penalized half the distance to the goal.
Neely punted the ball away to Lavin, who returned the ball five yards. On the next play Lavin ran around the edge for nineteen yards. Fuller gained two yards and this was followed up by a 5-yard pass. Saunders then made the first down, and fullback Pribble carried the ball in for the score. Time passed and punts were exchanged, until Godchaux made a 20-yard run around the right end. Tot McCullough caught a 24-yard pass, and Smith then skirted around end for the Commodores' final score. Godchaux returned a ball to the 27-yard line. A fumble lost yardage, and the Wildcats' "Slug" Fleahman blocked Jess Neely's punt giving Kentucky the ball at the 12-yard line. Lavin weaved his way through the Commodores' defense for Kentucky's last touchdown.
Kentucky threatened to score late and tie it, but turned the ball over on downs at the 2-yard line. Neely sealed the game by running the ball 34 yards to the 36-yard line.
|Kentucky victories||Vanderbilt victories||Tie games|
Series record sources: College Football Data Warehouse.
- College Football Data Warehouse, Kentucky vs Vanderbilt. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- "Wildcats Run Signals In Dark". The Lexington Herald. October 12, 1921.
- "Great Crowd to See Vandy Play". October 14, 1921.
- Joe T. Lovett (October 16, 1921). "Pribble, Lavin First To Cross On Commodores". Lexington Herald.
- Camp, Walter, ed. National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Rules: Official Intercollegiate Football Guide. 45 Rose St, New York: American Sports, 1922. Print. Spalding's Athletic Library.
- Russell, Fred, and Maxwell Edward Benson. Fifty Years of Vanderbilt Football. Nashville, TN, 1938
- The Commodore (Yearbook) 1921, p. 117
- "Vandy Outweighs Kentucky And Wins". Montgomery Advertiser. October 16, 1921.