Tennessee comes into the game Saturday with a record of six wins and three losses (6-3). Kentucky will come into Saturday with a record of five wins and four losses (5-4). The Cats are only a half game back from first place in the SEC East… that’s right, only a half game back of first place in the SEC East!
The Wildcats enter Saturday’s game as a 14-point underdog. The Cats had first place in their sites last weekend against Georgia. Unfortunately, the Wildcats lost on a game-winning field goal to shoot the wild dreams down (for the moment at least).
If the Cats are going to get that sixth win this Saturday in the Smokies, here is my five keys to doing so.
1 Put pressure on Josh Dobbs. The senior quarterback completed 12 of his 13 passes for 183 yards last weekend against Tennessee Tech as well as tacked on three passing touchdowns for the Volunteers. Dobbs has completed just under 60 percent of his throws this season, while racking up 1869 yards and 18 touchdowns. That front seven for the Cats needs to be able to put pressure on Dobbs and force a couple bad throws or interceptions if they have a chance at pulling the upset.
2. Control the line of scrimmage. Kentucky ran the ball for 186 yards last weekend against the Bulldogs. If Benny Snell and Stanley "Boom" Williams can run the ball for 100 yards a piece again, then I think the offensive line has done their job. Tennessee only gave up 60 yards last weekend against Tennessee Tech, but the Kentucky duo of running backs is just a bit more talented. Kentucky has rushed for over 200 yards in five of the nine games played thus far.
3. Exploit Tennessee Defensive Backs. Jeff Badet has had a tremendous year thus far, catching 22 passes for 530 yards and four touchdowns. Dontez Byrd of Tennessee Tech had nine receptions for 121 yards against the Volunteers. I believe if the Cats can just get Badet or Garret Johnson a couple of open routes, they should be able to take advantage of that not-so-good Volunteer defense.
4. Stop Derek Barnett. The junior defensive end for the Volunteers has nine sacks already through the first nine games and 29 sacks in his college career so far. The very talented defensive end also has 37 tackles on the year. Cole Mosier will have his hands full on Saturday against Barnett; I would expect some help from the backfield blocking Barnett on the edge.
5. Convert on 3rd downs. Kentucky is only completing 37 percent of 3rd down conversions this season. The Cats have to keep the sticks manageable, keeping the sticks under 3rd and 4 or. The one positive is the cats convert 3rd down 43 percent of the time on the road and only 34 percent at home, so the Cats are not bad on the road on 3rd down.
The Wildcats are trying to pull what some would say a "miracle upset" on Saturday in Knoxville. Some would say it is an impossible climb, but I definitely can see potential in a program changing win Saturday.
My Wishful Prediction: Kentucky 42 Tennessee 35
My Real Prediction: Kentucky 28 Tennessee 38