Saturday’s contest will be a rarity for the age-old rivalry with both teams taking the field while being ranked in the top 25.
The No. 19 Wildcats will be coming off a bye and ideally on the healthier side after spending the last several weeks throttled on both sides of the ball by injuries.
ESPN will have the coverage from Neyland Stadium beginning at 7:00 PM EST on Saturday, October 29th.
We could debate how this game will go a million different ways, but there’s no debating the fact that the environment is going to absolute insanity.
The Volunteer fan base is still likely to be foaming from the mouth just two weeks removed from their generational 52-49 win over Alabama.
It was extremely wild in Gainesville and Oxford when the Cats went on the road there, but I believe it’s safe to say that anybody traveling to Knoxville for the game on Saturday, whether you’re a fan, coach or player, better be ready to embrace a hostile setting.
The weather is looking great for football under the lights, so you can count on there being one 100,000 plus screaming orange maniacs inside Neyland Stadium.
The Cats have looked rough to start many games this year and that cannot be the case against UT. UK has to find a way to neutralize the home crowd if they want to pull off an upset as nearly two touchdown underdogs.
The line originally opened at around 14 points but has since lowered.
As of Friday afternoon, the DraftKings SportsBook has Kentucky listed as a 12-point dog with ESPN’s matchup predictor only giving them a 17.1% chance at winning.
By the numbers what Josh Heupel has put together this season at Tennessee is nothing short of remarkable.
The Vols boast the top offense in all of college football, and it’s not even really all that close in comparison.
Their 571 yards of offense is nearly 50 more yards than the next closest team, who just happens to be another SEC East foe, Georgia, who averages 526.
Led by their Heisman candidate quarterback, Hendon Hooker, Tennessee is blistering opposing defenses to the tune of 50.1 points per game through seven games played.
Overall, the Vols’ offense presents a fairy balanced attack with an arsenal of weaponry in both the rushing and passing attack.
Out of the 4,002 total yards that Tennessee has logged this season, 1,420 have been on the ground, while the other 2,582 have come via their lethal passing attack.
Hendon Hooker has been absolutely phenomenal this season, there’s simply no other way to put it.
The senior quarterback transfer from Virginia Tech has set the college football world on fire by throwing for 18 touchdowns and just one pick all while leading his team to an undefeated record and win over Bama.
As unbelievable as Hendon Hooker’s play has been you could make a case that junior wide-out Jalin Hyatt contributions have been equally as important.
Hyatt became a household name after his unfathomable five touchdown reception game in UT’s upset win over Alabama. But he’d been tearing it up well before the game against the Crimson Tide.
Hyatt has caught a touchdown in all but two of the Vols’ games and that includes four games with multiple touchdowns.
Tennessee’s game plan will be to space the field out side-line to side-line and let guys like Jalin Hyatt try to make a play in space.
If you’ve watched any UT football this season then you know the formula is working because it seems like the Vols have been able to score at will the last several weeks.
Brad White will also have to game plan for a solid rushing attack. Hooker’s threat as a passer really opens up holes and creates running lanes for Tennessee’s two top running backs, Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small. Both have run for right around 400 yards each this season and tallied 12 touchdowns between them.
Injury-wise, Mark Stoops expects the Cats to be as healthy as they’ve been in a while. That includes wideout/returner Tayvion Robinson likely playing this week, though linebacker Jacquez Jones is still out for the foreseeable future.
No matter who the opponent is, I’d always anticipate Kentucky’s game plan to center around establishing Chris Rodriguez in the run game.
Although it remains obvious that airing the ball out to keep pace with the Vols scoring will likely be necessary, the Cats have to let C-Rod and the rushing game open up opportunities to get the talented wide-outs involved.
Barion Brown could be set up nicely for another big game in what has already been a stellar freshman campaign.
Any way you slice it — Saturday night’s game against Tennessee will in many ways represent how the 2022 season will be remembered.
- Time: 7:00 PM ET on October 29th
- Location: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee
- TV Channel: ESPN
- Announcers: Chris Fowler (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (analysis) and Holly Rowe (sideline) will have the call.
- Online Stream: WatchESPN, ESPN+, the ESPN app, or you can use a free trial of fubo.tv.
- Radio: Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro have the UK radio network call on 630AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and the UK Sports Network.
- Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings for replay schedule).
- Weather: Cloudy during the evening. Low near 55F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain at 0%, per covers.com.
- Rosters: UK | UT
- Stats to Know: UK | UT
- Odds: DraftKings Sportsbook has Tennessee as a 12-point favorite with ESPN’s matchup predictor favoring the Vols with an 82.9% % chance of winning.
- Score Projection: TeamRankings has Kentucky falling 34-24 at Tennessee.