Welcome to the final Virtual Tailgate of the college football season, and in fitting fashion, today's tailgate is in honor of our opponent and major SEC rival, the Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee and Kentucky have a long relationship in football, and although the Volunteers dominate the rivalry, this is a good opportunity for the Wildcats to get one back for posterity and end the season on a high note.
But more about the game later. First, let's get our food and drink on.
For our cocktail tonight, we'll have a Tennessee favorite:
Whiskey sour (via thebittenword.com)
And we'll make them with:
Jack Daniel's (via Rodrigo Galindez
I'm not a huge fan of Jack Daniels, but it's fine mixed with other stuff. Should make a fine whiskey sour.
Now, for the appetizer. How's about:
Pretzels & Beer Cheese (via Tim Rodenberg)
Awesome stuff. The pretzels all warm and soft with big chunks of salt Nice, spicy beer cheese. Yeah, babe.
For the main course today, we're going to stay with a Tennessee (and Kentucky) favorite:
Pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw (via mrsdewinter)
Nothing like a main course with the side dish built right in. Nothing goes with pulled pork like a bit of barbecue sauce and some coleslaw.
Finally, our beer of the day, which will be something from Down Under:
Foster's Lager (via Najots)
There is no better general-purpose beer than Foster's lager. It is supremely drinkable and goes well with every tailgate.
Finally, dessert. This is a personal favorite of mine:
German chocolate cake (via stu_spivack)
Don't count the calories. Just eat it and enjoy
Time to talk Tennessee and Kentucky. This is one of those games that has interest only for the principles. Virtually nobody in America other than fans of Kentucky and Tennessee cares in the least amount about what happens tonight at 7:00 in Commonwealth Stadium. This game has no impact on anything except the pride of the two programs meeting on the field of combat.
Kentucky comes in still wounded from the Georgia game and suspension due to team rules violations. Raymond Sanders and DeMarco Robinson will not be playing, so Kentucky will be down a couple of starters, although Jalen Whitlow figures to be back, as will Max Smith in case Whitlow has problems.
I expect to see a lot of Dyshawn Mobley in this game. Mark Stoops was close to effusive in his praise of Mobley recently because of his outstanding effort on special teams and — lest we forget — his 69-yard touchdown run against Georgia last week. I expect Mobley to see plenty of time against Tennessee, and if Mobely has his karma just right, we might expect him to have a big game against his home-state school.
I'm not sure if we'll get Cody Quinn back from suspension to play cornerback, but it seems that we have seen the last of Nate Willis for the year, and freshman Jaleel Hytchye seems to have taken his spot on the depth chart due to persistent injuries. Ashely Lowery currently seems likely to miss the game, although he is listed as the starter on the depth chart I have seen.
Other players we may or may not see is Ryan Timmons, Jason Hatcher, and TraVaughn Paschal. Some reports have them in, some out. If I were a betting man, I'd say they were more likely out than in.
For Tennessee, backup QB Nathan Peterman, DL Trevarris Saulsberry, and WR Devin Young will most likely miss the game today. WR Marquez North is listed as questionable.
Reason for hope?
The biggest reason Kentucky has for hope in this game is mainly that it is at home. Honestly, Tennessee has bigger, more talented players than Kentucky. They are also smarting from a loss last weekend where they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against in-state rival Vanderbilt. If that doesn't motivate them to get that win back here, nothing will.
Kentucky, on the other hand, has nothing but pride to motivate them, and after the beat-down delivered by Georgia last weekend, I'm not sure how much is left of that pride. I know Mark Stoops will be out there extolling his troops to play hard, but under these circumstances, it would have to be considered a major feat of coaching if the team goes out there and gives their all. That's what I'd like to see, but to be brutally honest, I just don't know.
With that said, Tennessee is bad enough that Kentucky can actually be competitive, should they choose to do so. We won this game two years ago with noting going for us but pride and a determined wide receiver at quarterback to break a stupendous losing streak (thank you, Matt Roark), and I could see the Wildcats rising up again to smite the vulnerable Vols again this year just for sheer spite. Nothing would make me happier to see this unfortunate squad rise up, put a chip on their shoulder, and dare the Vols to try to knock it off. To be honest, that might be all it takes to gain the advantage in this game.
Watch for special teams play early. If we see a spark there, it could auger well for the rest of the the game.