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Randall Cobb-led Kentucky bowl eligible after racing past Vanderbilt

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Randall Cobb ran for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns as Kentucky surged past Vanderbilt 38-20 on Saturday.

Cobb had touchdown runs of 5 and 73 yards to help the Wildcats (6-5, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) become bowl eligible for the fifth straight season. He finished with 279 total yards, breaking the school record for all-purpose yards in a single season in the process.

Derrick Locke ran for 145 yards and two scores in his first game in a month and quarterback Mike Hartline threw for 232 yards and a touchdown in his final home game.

Kennard Reeves rushed for a career-high 105 yards for the Commodores (2-8, 1-6), but Vanderbilt couldn't make a 13-10 halftime lead stand up.

Cobb made sure of that. The junior said earlier in the week he'll gauge his NFL prospects before deciding whether to return to school next fall.

He made a pretty compelling case for the pro scouts in attendance, showcasing why he's become one of the nation's most versatile and valuable players.

The Wildcats certainly needed it after slogging through another uninspired first half.

The defense struggled to keep the SEC's worst offense in check and the offense looked sporadic even with Locke's return to the lineup after missing four games with a shoulder injury.

Vanderbilt had no such problems. The Commodores rolled 242 yards in the first 30 minutes, heady territory for a team that averages just 267 yards a game.

Reeves, thrust into a starting role due to a myriad of injuries, found gaping holes to run through and wide receiver Jonathan Krause made a couple of big plays to keep the Wildcats on their heels.

Yet Kentucky, as it has done most of the season, gathered itself at halftime and turned to Cobb to get things moving in the right direction.

He lined up at quarterback in the WildCobb formation on Kentucky's first possession of the half, took the snap, ran to his left then cut back to his right to race 73 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats the lead.

Cobb was at it again two possessions later, taking the snap and retreating 10 yards before somehow weaving his way through the Vanderbilt defense for a 52-yard gain.

Locke's 1-yard touchdown dive four plays later put Kentucky up 24-13, and the Wildcats poured it on.

Hartline hit a wide-open Chris Matthews for a 55-yard score and Locke finished the Commodores off with an 83-yard touchdown run.

The victory takes some of the pressure off the Wildcats heading into their season finale at Tennessee in two weeks. Kentucky hasn't beaten the Volunteers in more than a quarter century, and coach Joker Phillips acknowledged it was important for his team to become bowl eligible before heading to Knoxville.

Kentucky outgained Vanderbilt 370-158 in the second half to beat the Commodores for the sixth time in the last seven meetings.

The rivalry has been one-sided in recent years, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been heated. This time was no different. The team combined for 16 penalties and a handful of skirmishes. Kentucky cornerback Martavius Neloms and Vanderbilt's Udom Umoh were ejected in the fourth quarter after trading punches.