LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -Andre Woodson threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns - two to Keenan Burton - as Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 38-26 Saturday to become eligible for its first bowl game since 1999.
The victory guarantees the Wildcats (6-4, 4-3) at least a .500 record in both the regular season and Southeastern Conference, virtually assuring their spot in postseason play.
Representatives of five bowl games were on hand to scout both teams, but the loss knocks Vanderbilt (4-7, 1-6) out of contention. The Commodores, who haven't appeared in the postseason since 1982, lost to Kentucky for the fifth time in six games - the last two dashing their bowl eligibility.
Kentucky trailed 20-17 going into the final quarter, but tailback [db]Rafael Little[/db], playing for the first time in more than a month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, gave the Wildcats the lead for good with a 2-yard touchdown run. He had 20 carries for 132 yards and also caught eight passes for 114 yards.
Vanderbilt had a chance to regain the lead. But on fourth-and-goal at the Kentucky 2, freshman cornerback [db]E.J. Adams picked off Chris Nickson's pass and ran it back to midfield.
After Woodson found DeMoreo Ford open in the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown, Kentucky cornerback Marcus McClinton stopped Vanderbilt's next drive with another interception near the end zone.
Woodson iced the victory by throwing his fourth touchdown - a 57-yarder - to Burton. The Kentucky quarterback had now thrown for 24 touchdowns this year - four times as many as he had last year.
It had been several years since these two teams met in such an important game. The win gave Kentucky a 38-37-4 lead in the all-time series.
Although it ended up being a battle of defensive futility, neither team got on the board until midway through the second quarter, when Kentucky's Lones Seiber nailed a 28-yard field goal.
Nickson needed less than two minutes to put the Commodores in front 7-3. He completed a 53-yard pass to Earl Bennett and a 26-yarder to Marlon White before running it in himself for a one-yard score.
Nickson led the Commodores with 71 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also threw for 446 yards and one score.