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Kentucky vs. Tennessee: What’s at stake

Oh boy. Here we go again.

Kentucky football finally won a game!

The December 31st Belk Bowl win felt like an eon ago last Saturday as the ‘Cats won their first game of 2020 and improved to 1-2 with an amazing defensive performance that led them to a 24-2 win. It’s so much fun to watch this team play, and it’s so much more fun to see them win.

But now it’s that time of year again: the week Kentucky plays the Tennessee Volunteers. That week and the Florida week are often the two most painful weeks of the season, NOT because they always lose (because they don’t), but because so often the candy is snatched from them right at the last moment. And they lose a lot. Like almost every time. Like 65 out of the last 68 times.

And right after the game you realize it’s a whole ‘nother year till they get another crack at ‘em. Yet, when they do win, fans party like it’s [insert your favorite year here]! It’s funny how college football works, because at least for me, when wins like the 2017 triumph over the Vols happen, it seems to make up for all the losing. The 2018 Florida win sure seemed that way, and also seemed to be the key that broke UK out of the mediocrity basement to a 10-3 season they finished ranked #12.

I’ve learned to distance myself from the TV as much as I need to though with Tennessee. I don’t like seeing that Vol orange celebrate so if I do watch any of that I want to be fairly certain UK will win (which you can never, ever be certain about with these games). I sure am glad Kentucky’s heading into this one coming off a morale-boosting win and Tennessee with a deflating dud against Georgia.

Let’s dive into what’s at stake this Saturday (besides getting to party like it’s 2019):

If Kentucky Wins:

  • They’ll be 46-46 under Mark Stoops.
  • UK fans will go crazy
  • Their all-time record will be 625-628-44, only four games shy of 50-50.
  • UK fans can show off the “Always on Top” T-shirts
  • They’ll improve to 25-81-9 against the Vols, and snap a 2-game losing streak.
  • UK fans will be like “How ‘bout dose ‘Cats?”
  • They’ll have won in Knoxville for the first time since 1985.
  • UK fans will sing parodied and badly-tuned versions of “Rocky Top” to make fun of the Vols
  • They’ll have beaten their first ranked opponent since January 1, 2019, when they took down #12 Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.
  • UK fans will be pleased.
  • They’ll have won 2 of the past 4 contests against Tennessee.
  • UK fans will be ecstatic.
  • They’ll be 20-10 since the start of the historic 2018 season.
  • They’ll be 14-5 under QB Terry Wilson.
  • UK fans will watch the rest of the football games and not just wonder how long until basketball season
  • They’ll be out of the CBS Bottom 25 (at last!)
  • UK fans will wear smiles larger than the King Pig in “Angry Birds” (and the Vols will be more like the birds)
  • Lexington will be rocking when Georgia comes to town in prime-time.
  • All UK fans will bounce off the walls.

If Kentucky Loses:

  • UK fans will wonder why they watched all 3.5 hours of the game and grumpily think about that garage that needs to be cleaned out.
  • UK fans will say, “When’s basketball start?”
  • UK fans will blame the refs for all 82 losses and 9 ties against Tennessee.
  • They’ll be staring down a possible 1-4 with a difficult game looming against Georgia.
  • Bowl eligibility will still be a battle

Gains from winning: It’s the Tennessee game! It’d be better than winning 100 free cheeseburgers!

Consequences from losing: Same as they usually are, but higher if they blow a late lead.

Hardest Opponent Scale: This is the 4th hardest opponent they’ll face this year, making this a very big opportunity.

Mark Stoops’ troops know how to beat Tennessee because they’ve done it before (2017). Some players from that team are even still on the roster today, like Quinton Bohanna. The only issue is, well, doing it again. They will. It’s only a matter of time.

Go ‘Cats!