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By LARRY VAUGHT
Vanderbilt center Bradley Vierling can see parallels between what the Kentucky football program has done by winning three straight bowl games with what Vanderbilt did last season when it went to a bowl game for the first time in 26 years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think Kentucky has always been known as a basketball school and the football program has come a long way. With us we have always been the whipping boy of the SEC and people donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look at us that way any more. It has taken a lot of hard work for us both to get where we are,Ã¢â‚¬Â Vierling said.
He thinks that is partially why the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game has become such an intense rivalry in recent years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have great battles with Kentucky every year. I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because every time we play Kentucky we have five wins and are trying to get sixth win or it is the same with them. They are trying not to let us get six wins so they can get to a bowl game. I think that competition to get to a bowl game has really pushed both of us to compete hard against each other,Ã¢â‚¬Â the Vandy center said.
Vanderbilt beat Kentucky 31-24 in Lexington last year to make itself bowl eligible, a game Vierling remembers well.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I remember last year was huge victory for us. It was our sixth win and even in that cold, awful weather it was great,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We all felt a huge monkey come off our back. It was a tremendous change for us after 26 years without a bowl.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We pounded theball right down their throat. They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the ball much. We controlled the tempo the whole game. They hurt us with special teams. It was one of the more fun games I ever played in because we always compete so hard against one another. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good rivalry, and it was even better last year because we won.Ã¢â‚¬Â