- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kentucky is up next as we continue to look at the best and worst moments for all 14 SEC teams in 2012:
There weren't a lot of good moments for the Wildcats in 2012. In a year in which the head coach was fired and the team wins just two games, happy moments were hard to come by. But in Week 2, the Wildcats were at their strongest. In a year ravaged by injuries, Kentucky looked like an offensive juggernaut in its 47-14 win over Kent State. Yes, the same Kent State that was a win away from making a BCS bowl game. With starting quarterback Maxwell Smith still standing upright, the Wildcats churned out a season-high 539 yards of offense, including a career-high 354 passing yards and four touchdowns from Smith. Kentucky trailed 7-0 after the first quarter, but then took off, scoring 47 of the next 54 points. Running back Raymond Sanders ran for 115 yards and scored on a 67-yard touchdown run, while wide receiver Aaron Boyd set career highs in receptions (11) and receiving yards (100). He also had a touchdown catch. This was easily Kentucky's most complete game of the year.
You can point to all of the injuries, starting with Smith, but at the end of the day, the Wildcats just weren't getting better as the year went on. Kentucky watched as most players spent more time in the infirmary than on the football field, but the worst moment of the year for this team was its embarrassing 40-0 home loss to Vanderbilt. Commonwealth Stadium was hardly filled and the Commodores ran up and down the field at will against the wounded Wildcats. Vandy out-gained the Wildcats 447-260 and was up 27-0 by halftime. Freshmen quarterbacks Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles combined to complete just 13 of 35 passes for 159 yards against Vandy's stingy defense. To no one's surprise, coach Joker Phillips was fired the very next day. The results just weren't there, and even though the injuries mounted, the Wildcats didn't improve. To lose so handily to Vanderbilt was the final straw for athletic director Mitch Barnhart.