Tennessee Volunteers (4-5) at Kentucky Wildcats (4-4)
- Game Time: 7:30 pm EST on Saturday, November 9th
- Location: Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky
- TV Channel: SEC Network
- Announcers: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, and Cole Cubelic will be on the call for SECN.
- Radio: Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and on the UK Sports Network.
- Online radio: TuneIn broadcast or UKAthletics.com.
- Online Stream: WatchESPN
- Odds: Kentucky opened as a 3.5-point favorite, but the line has since shifted back and forth between both teams being favored by 1. As of Saturday morning, it’s Kentucky favored by 1.5 points.
- Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
- Rosters: UK | UT
- Weekend Weather Report: Tonight’s game will be played under partly cloudy weather with no chance of rain and a game-time temperature of 43 degrees.
- Live Stats
- Score Projection: OddsShark picks Kentucky to win 26-22.
- Hype Video:
Tonight, the Wildcats will host Tennessee, and there is a lot on the line for both teams. Each with four wins, this could be an important game for both programs to close in on securing a bid to a bowl game.
Last season, Kentucky went to Knoxville as a heavy favorite only to be blown out by an underwhelming Tennessee team. While that is certainly a stain on last year’s incredible season, reaching 10 wins overshadowed the loss for Kentucky fans. For the players, however, the word is that the Wildcats are out for revenge for last season’s embarrassing loss.
Assuming Kentucky can get a win over UT-Martin, they only need to pull out one more win over Tennessee, Vanderbilt, or Louisville. As we have seen so far this season, nothing is guaranteed on the gridiron.
The Vols need to win two of their last three, with their remaining opponents being Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Missouri. If they cannot beat Kentucky on Saturday, every day becomes a must win.
The Wildcats will once again be led on the field by Lynn Bowden. Since stepping in to play quarterback after the top three guys went down to injury, Kentucky is 2-1 with their lone loss coming to Georgia.
Bowden has not thrown the ball very much, but he has proven that he can throw well enough to deep the defense honest. And in rushing for nearly 200 yards per game in his two victories, he has proven to be a game-changer with the football in his hands so much.
Tennessee dropped two ugly games to kick off the season, but have since recovered to salvage what once looked like a disastrous season. After impressive wins over Mississippi State and South Carolina, both of which beat Kentucky, the Vols are rolling and full of confidence. They come into Kroger Field feeling like the better team, and despite being a slight underdog, have all the confidence in the world that they can pick up a win.
Both teams have seemed their defenses step up to support their renewed offenses. Lynn Bowden has looked unstoppable as of late, and against South Carolina in Week 9, Jarrett Guarantano looked like an All-SEC player throwing beautiful passess all over the field.
The offensive star of the Vols is senior wide receiver Jauan Jennings. The All-American candidate ranks fourth in the SEC in receiving yards (722) and sixth in receptions (47) and TD catches (7). He is even better in SEC-only games, ranking third in the league in yards/game (88.8). He was named SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week following his seven-catch, 174-yard, two-TD performance vs. USC, and he scored his first-career rushing TD against UAB.
The star of the Vols defense is senior linebacker Darrell Taylor, who recorded the fifth multi-sack game of his career in Tennessee’s win over South Carolina, registering two sacks along with a two pass breakups.
Taylor was instrumental in last year’s 24-7 upset win over Kentucky, as he racked up four sacks, becoming just the third Vol in program history to register a four-sack game. Kentucky’s seven points were the fewest that the Vols had allowed to an SEC opponent since Oct. 18, 2008.
Another star emerging on defense is sophomore cornerback Bryce Thompson, an FWAA Freshman All-American in 2018, tied the Tennessee school-record with three INTs in Week 10 vs. UAB in the 30-7 win over the Blazers. Thompson’s three picks were the most by a Vol since 1999 and led a defensive effort that held UAB to only 237 yards of total offense.
Thompson’s emergence as a shutdown corner is a big reason why the Vols’ defense has improved so much as the season has wore on. Tennessee is now tied for third in the nation and leads the SEC with 13 interceptions on the season.
While this game is viewed as a toss-up that the Wildcats may very well win, they can never take for granted a win vs. the Vols. Tennessee has played and beaten Kentucky more than any other team and holds an 80-25-9 record.
Tennessee is 37-15-3 in Lexington all time and has won 32 of the past 34 meetings overall against Kentucky. However, the Wildcats have won two of the past four home matchups in this series, so it’s been a little more even when it comes to playing in Lexington.
So many questions surround this matchup. Will Kentucky be able to slow down Tennessee’s offense? Will Lynn Bowden be able to run all over the Volunteers like he has everyone else? Or will we see Sawyer Smith healthy and back on the field?