Kentucky Wildcats (7-2) at Tennessee Volunteers (4-5)
Where: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee
Game time: 3:30 pm EST on Nov. 10
TV Channel: SEC Network
Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings)
Radio: Tom Leach will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington. You can listen to an online radio stream via UK Athletics.
Odds: Kentucky opened as a 3.5-point favorite. The line has since grown to as much as 6.5 points in some sportsbooks. That’s actually bad news for the Wildcats, who are 0-3 this season against the spread when favored. Coming into the season, Stoops’ Kentucky teams had the worst against the spread record of any college football team over the last five seasons. Overall, Kentucky is 5-4 against the spread this season.
Prediction: ESPN gives the Cats a 66.5-percent chance of winning. TeamRankings projects a 25-19 win for the Cats. numberFire is going with a 24-18 victory for Kentucky.
While we wait for the game, here is the latest hype video from Kentucky Wildcats TV:
The SEC East may be out of reach, but a historic season is still in the cards for the Kentucky Wildcats.
But to accomplish, this, they’ll have to first secure a road victory over the Tennessee Volunteers, something that hasn’t been done in over three decades. A win Saturday would very likely lead to a 10-win regular season for Kentucky and put them in prime position to appear in one of its most prominent bowl games in school history.
The Cats have to regroup quickly
There will be little to no time for the Wildcats to reflect on their emotional loss against Georgia. Kentucky fans were all in on the idea of beating the Bulldogs and winning the SEC East, but the fact of the matter is that the offense is just not producing enough points right now to be beat a formidable opponent.
It’s fair to say that Eddie Gran is not the most popular guy in the Commonwealth. Fans are becoming increasingly vocal about their displeasure with the offensive play calling, specifically not opening things up to get the ball down field. UK did show signs of life in the second half by scoring two touchdowns and finishing the game with over 300 yards.
The Kentucky defense finally gave up more than 20 points and for the first time this season seemed to be on their heels trying to stop the Bulldogs. It was tough to watch Georgia light up the scoreboard with 34 points and 440 yards.
But hey, Saturday is a new day and Kentucky is still having one hell of a season. Now is not the time to start hanging heads or giving up. A major bowl is still on the table and UK will need to regroup quickly before heading to Knoxville.
The Vols are next up
Mark Stoops and team will travel approximately 175 miles south to face the Tennessee Volunteers in what will be their final SEC road game. Tennessee struggles have carried over to this season as they are 1-4 in conference play with the lone win coming against Auburn on 10/13.
In their five SEC games, the Vols have surrendered 39 points per game. The generous defense may be exactly what the Cats need to build some offensive confidence as they finish out the season.
Although, Missouri had nearly identical numbers and UK was only able to muster 15 points against the Tigers. At this point, it’s difficult to have much confidence in UK putting up big offensive numbers, so relying on the defense will continue to be the game plan.
On Saturday, Tennessee took care of Charlotte, beating them 14-3 at home in an ugly win. Charlotte actually controlled much of the game and even out gained the Vols in total yardage 244-192. It was far from an impressive victory for Tennessee, who didn’t even score after the first quarter. The Vols also only rushed for an embarrassing 20 yards on the day.
This should be a game that Kentucky can pull away and use their defense to dominate an SEC team.
As much as losing to Georgia stung, there is still reason to be excited and winning on Saturday will ensure the Cats finish with an impressive 6-2 record in the SEC.
Can Kentucky execute a game plan for 4 quarters?
Game after game it seems like the plan is out the window after the first quarter and the Cats just hunker down in an attempt rely on their defense. The offense was able to get some positive things going in the second half against Georgia but was unable to contain D’Andre Swift who ran rampant the entire game torching the defense for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
So, it’s time for UK to sustain an effort for 4 quarters. As wonderful as this season has been there has still not been a game, with the exception of maybe Murray State, where Kentucky has clicked on all cylinders and beat an opponent into the ground.
Eddie Gran should be focused on getting the ball into the playmakers’ hands and possibly adding some play-action passes into the fold. It’s no secret that when UK is held under 100 yards rushing, like they were against Georgia, that winning is going to be difficult.
Establishing Benny Snell then counter attacking with the passing game should be the plan once again.
This rivalry goes way back
The Cats and Vols football rivalry goes back all the way to 1893 and was formerly known at “The Battle for the Barrel,” before being discontinued in 1998 after a tragic car accident took the lives of two Kentucky players.
Overall, Tennessee has dominated Kentucky in the all-time football series 75-25-9. Between 1985 and 2010 the Vols owned Kentucky beating them 25 years in a row. But it was Kentucky who won the last meeting when they won 29-26 at home in 2017.
UK has not beaten Tennessee while playing on the road since 1984. So, there will be another great opportunity for a marquee victory to make this season even more special than it already is.
Any road win in the SEC is great, but winning at Neyland Stadium would be another feather in Mark Stoops’ hat. I would anticipate that many members of the Big Blue Nation will be making the 4-hour trip for a chance to witness a rare win road win against the Volunteers.
As much as losing to Georgia stung there is still reason to be excited, and winning on Saturday will rejuvenate the players and fans.