The Kentucky Wildcats have not defeated the Tennessee Volunteers in Neyland Stadium since 1984. However, the Wildcats are certainly better this season than they have been since...maybe ever.
After dropping a tough one to the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, Kentucky will be on the road in hopes of improving to 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the SEC. A 10-win season is within reach for the Wildcats, but they have to take care of business in Knoxville this week to make that happen.
Of course, the staff at A Sea of Blue has an opinion on Saturday’s contest. Here is what they had to say.
Kentucky has a better football team than Tennessee this season. It is not very often that this is the case. However, there is a huge danger for a let down for the Wildcats in Neyland Stadium.
After a heartbreaking loss to Georgia last week, Kentucky needs to get back to what works and wear Tennessee down. The Volunteers are 68th in the country in rushing yards per game, allowing 165 yards on the ground each time out.
This is a prime game for Benny Snell to re-establish himself as a premier back in the country, and for Terry Wilson to continue to build on his own personal success from the last two games.
This one will not be as easy on the field as it looks on paper. Tennessee will be in the game up until the end.
Prediction: Kentucky 20, Tennessee 10
John Morgan Francis
The Wildcats’ fan base experienced a rather rough and disappointing four days between Kentucky football’s home-blowout loss to Georgia that was followed by a historical beatdown by Duke in Kentucky basketball’s season opener.
However, as basketball looks to get back on track in Rupp Arena on Friday night, the football team will take their motivation down to Knoxville in what will be the first of their final three games this season.
The Wildcats, 7-2 on the season, are currently six-point road favorites. After Benny Snell being mostly contained the past two weeks, the UK coaching staff will most likely make his impact a point of emphasis early on and throughout the game.
Terry Wilson, passing for more than 200 yards in back-to-back games for the first time this season, seems to have his confidence at an all-time high. The assertion of Lynn Bowden as a star wide receiver in the SEC has certainly bracketed off Wilson’s belief in himself to throw the ball in tight coverage.
Behind a disgruntled, motivated, veteran defense, the Wildcats’ offense should be equally balanced in a game that could be close early-on but eventually pull away from the Volunteers in the second half.
Prediction: Kentucky 23, Tennessee 13
This game to me feels like a little bit of a trap game. Kentucky is just coming off its first bad loss of the season (albeit one that was expected), and Tennessee in their own building is never an easy opponent, no matter the state of their team.
However, I think Kentucky walks away with the victory and ends yet another historic losing streak. The Wildcats have proven themselves to be mentally tough in the middle of games that don’t seem to be going their way, and I think that continues as they move past the loss to Georgia.
The defense will get back to its stingy ways (hopefully the tackling will clean up as well), and I think they’ll hold the Volunteers in check. Terry Wilson has proven himself able to lead this offense in the past two games, and I see him continuing to settle into that role in this game.
And despite dealing with a slight ankle injury, I think Benny Snell will be able to get himself back on track as well after back to back underwhelming performances against Mizzou and Georgia. Tennessee hasn’t shown a whole lot this season, and I think this year is the Wildcats’ year to have some success in Knoxville.
I don’t think this game will be a blowout, but I do think the Wildcats get the job done in Knoxville this weekend.
Final Score: Kentucky 24, Tennessee 10
After a disappointing performance this past week against Georgia, it is time for the Cats to get back on track with a big win on the road at Tennessee, a place that hasn’t treated the Cats well over the years.
However, this Tennessee team is not very good, and their offense only put up one touchdown against a Charlotte team that is considered to be one of the worst teams in college football. So, I believe this is a perfect game for the defense to get back on track.
Overall, I think Kentucky is the better team and not only has a chance to win at Tennessee for the first time in most of our lifetimes, but I believe they should win, and that’s exactly what I think they will do.
Prediction: Kentucky 21, Tennessee 3
Kentucky looks to end another streak as the No. 11 Wildcats head to Neyland Stadium to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. UK has not won in Knoxville since 1984, but this game is more about positioning for bowl season now that Georgia took any CFB Playoff hopes from them last weekend.
Last weekend was a mixed bag of good and bad. At times, the defense held Georgia off, but the offense couldn’t take advantage. At others, the defense allowed huge plays for Georgia while the offense put some scores together. There needs to be some sort of continuity between the two this weekend to put a full game together. Jarrett Guarantano and the Volunteers are solid and are Kentucky’s final SEC East opponent, which makes them no pushover.
With that said, I think last weekends loss lights a fire under this group to finish the season strong. Tennessee has a losing record and is 1-4 in the SEC in Jeremy Pruitt’s first year. I see Kentucky adding another loss to that record.
Assuming they win out, the Wildcats will position themselves nicely for bowl season. The dream of a CFB Playoff appearance may be over, but this season will not be a failure in any sense of the word.
Prediction: Kentucky 29, Tennessee 17
Big Blue Nation returned from Cloud Nine after the Cats 34-17 loss at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs. Kentucky just appeared overmatched against Georgia, and the Wildcats missed out on an opportunity to face Alabama in the SEC Championship. That may be a blessing in disguise.
There’s no better cure for what ails the Cats than a trip to Knoxville to take on arch rival Tennessee. The Vols are 4-5 and struggling under first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt. While it’s never uncommon for fans in the Commonwealth to choose hoops over the gridiron, you’d be hard pressed to hear Tennessee fans not singing the praises of their basketball squad over the football team. But, that’s the type of year it’s been for the Vols.
Kentucky should return to its winning ways against Tennessee. The Volunteers only scratched 14 points across the board against the lowly Charlotte 49ers last week. Look for the Wildcats to be in the Tennessee backfield early and often. The Cats should be able to double up the Vols and leave Neyland Stadium with a victory.
Prediction: Kentucky 28, Tennessee 14
Drew Brown (not that Drew Brown)
It’s been an emotional few days in the Big Blue Nation. Losing to Georgia in football and Duke in basketball has kind of ripped out the hearts of fans. But Mark Stoops still has his team in a great position to accomplish something special.
Tennessee continued to look shaky against Charlotte over the weekend, as they were out gained in total yardage. The Cats absolutely have to find a way to move the ball down the field with consistency. I expect the defense to dominate the Vols and silence the road crowd.
Prediction: Kentucky 20, Tennessee 6
Kentucky should go into the Tennessee game with a chip on their shoulder, not only because of the disappointing loss to Georgia but also because it’s been quite a while since they’ve been able to go into Neyland stadium and pull out a win.
If you would have told me at the beginning of this season that Kentucky would have Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State, and Louisville to have a 10-2 season I would have taken that in a heartbeat, and that’s the position Kentucky is in now.
Terry Wilson has been playing relatively good the last two games, and I believe he will continue his improved play into this weekend, and Kentucky will win a close game against Tennessee. I think it will be a low scoring game, however, that Kentucky squeaks out with Josh Allen being your MVP.
Prediction: Kentucky 20, Tennessee 16
On paper, Kentucky is much better than Tennessee. It’s not even close. However, history may stand in the way as the Cats haven’t won at Tennessee since 1984. It’s another one of those old Kentucky football curses that will come to an end this year.
While the Volunteers started the season terribly, they’ve seemingly improved week by week. They opened the season getting blown out by West Virginia, then got destroyed by Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.
However, those are all good teams, and they’re all currently ranked in the top 15 of the CFP rankings. They beat a decent Auburn team on the road, and it took a late second-half comeback for South Carolina to narrowly edge them out. So, maybe the Volunteers aren’t as bad as originally thought.
The Tennessee offense is nothing to write home about. Ranked 119th in total offense, they’re led by Sophomore QB Jarrett Guarantano. He’s pretty average. He has a solid completion percentage (65.6%), while putting up average passing numbers (1,571 passing yards and nine touchdowns).
One thing he does well is limit turnovers, as he only has two interceptions all season. Both came against Florida. However, the offense’s weakness is protecting the QB. Guarantano has been sacked the fifth-most times in the SEC (18). Josh Allen and the rest of the defense should be able to completely shut this offense down.
As far as defense goes, Tennessee is above average. They rank 46th in total defense and 41st in pass yards allowed, but they’re not as good against the run as they rank 66th nationally. This would be a great time for Kentucky to get the offense, especially the ground game, back into gear. But they’ve been stagnant against poorer defenses, so it’s no guarantee.
This could be an ugly game. If the offensive line struggles to get movement up front yet again, then it could be a lot closer than it should be. But if UK does get their ground game going again, it should be a blowout. With that being said. I think the Cats are good enough to break through as Benny Snell will be too much too handle and the defense dominates.
Prediction: Kentucky 27 Tennessee 13
After last night’s drubbing to Duke, BBN needs this football win over Tennessee more than Calipari needed a Snickers (need to get away?). Fortunately for all of BBN, Stoops will have his troops ready for battle against the Volunteers.
Even after the loss to Georgia, this is still a very good UK football team. Georgia is an elite team, so don’t let that 17-point loss cause you to lose confidence in the Cats. Stoops will now have the players re-focused, prepared, and eager to get back on the field. The only cause for concern is that it’s a road game, and Tennessee is a tough place to play. The Vols fans will be pumped and ready to root against the Cats.
But Coach Stoops will have his team pumped up and ready to compete on the road. Benny Snell will be ready to prove that he’s one of the top running backs in the nation. Terry Wilson will be ready to play against a defense not anywhere near as good as Georgia. UK’s defense will look as stout as ever, especially since the Vols aren’t anywhere near as talented offensively as Georgia.
Prediction: Cats win 27-13