LEXINGTON, Ky. – LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky's hope of winning with style coming out of an off week quickly evolved into doing whatever it could to get past Vanderbilt.
The No. 14 Wildcats eventually succeeded behind the reliable combination of running back Benny Snell, Jr. and a fierce defense that wouldn't break.
Snell rushed for 169 yards, including the go-ahead 7-yard run with 8:04 remaining that helped 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.
Ugly? Yes. And Wildcats coach Mark Stoops will take it.
"We struggled at times, but you got to love that drive," he said. "When everybody in the stadium knew we were going to run the football and grind out 70, 80-yard drive and get it in the end zone says a lot about our football team and attitude and toughness.
"There are things we need to do better, but win or lose we'll go back to work and look at ourselves. But I can't apologize for being 6-1."
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. The Wildcats also recorded four sacks.
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.