The Kentucky Wildcats came into Saturday night’s game against #21 Tennessee desperately needing a win to get their season back on track. Losing three in a row and dropping to 5-3 after a bye week would be borderline crippling for a team that had lofty expectations this summer.
Things started off much like they did in Knoxville a year ago when the Vols pummeled UK.
Tennessee dominated the first quarter tonight in Lexington and took a 10-0 lead taking the energy right out of a sold-out Kroger Field.
The Cats would settle down and fight back in what was a wild, action-packed second quarter, with the most notable play being a missed call by officials.
The bogus call of a completed catch late in the first half gave UT a free three points and a 23-17 lead at the break.
Brad White’s defense would show up in the third quarter, holding the Volunteers to just three points, but overall, it was another disappointing performance.
Tennessee thrashed UK’s defense all night and finished the game with 481 total yards produced by a balanced approach.
It was an all-out war in the second half, with two 5-2 teams clawing for a win.
UT’s Dylan Sampson bolstered a heavy workload for the rest of the night and was seemingly the hardest player to tackle in the history of football.
Sampson and Jaylen Wright had their way all night long, and UK’s inability to stop them was the ultimate difference-maker.
Kentucky falls to Tennessee 33-27 and now looks to keep the wheels on this season.
Tonight the Big Blue Nation got an extended look at the best version of Devin Leary.
The Wildcat quarterback finished the game with 28/39 for 373 yards and two touchdowns. Impressive, but it wasn’t enough.
It was a thing of beauty watching the NC State transfer toss line drive ropes right into the numbers of his intended target. The arm strength and accuracy that were touted so heavily were on full display on Saturday night.
You have to think that a big showing like this against a rival will give Leary some confidence with four games left in the regular season.
Aside from a very winnable game on the road against South Carolina, Kentucky’s remaining schedule is brutal.
It was nice to see the Cats flex their weapons on the outside with Barion Brown and Dane Key catching touchdown passes. Key balled out, grabbing seven receptions for 113 yards and the score.
The sophomore duo both had big games, but they weren’t the only ones catching passes.
Leary really spread the ball out, hitting eight different targets proving reason to be excited for what Liam Coen and this Kentucky offense can do to finish out the year.
Tennessee fans just tried to chant over My Old Kentucky Home.— Wyatt Huff (@Wildcat_wave) October 28, 2023
It's getting heated already.
Kentucky blitzed right into the run, missed a tackle and it's a 53-yard Tennessee touchdown on the 5th snap of the game.— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) October 28, 2023
Probably the worst start possible. Yet another TD drive of five plays or less for Tennessee in the 1Q against Kentucky.— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) October 28, 2023
Kentucky's three and out is followed by a 52-yard Tennessee touchdown run after Joe Milton bowled over a defender to convert third and short. A less than ideal start for the Cats.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) October 28, 2023
Second series, Cats in 4th & 1 again. This time they go for it (out of shotgun) and fail. Vols set up on UK 34 with a chance to go up two scores early.— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) October 28, 2023
Now let’s not let Tennessee double-dip here. Get a stop and go to the locker room down 3.— Steven Peake (@StevenPeakeKSR) October 29, 2023
Kentucky's offense is answering the bell. Defense gotta help em out.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) October 29, 2023
Biggest defensive possession of the year coming up.
Really think that half comes down to Tennessee getting 6 cheap points via a Kentucky turnover on downs at their own 34 and a bad, bad call on the 3D to start that 2-minute drive. Put a pin in that.— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) October 29, 2023
It is amazing how talented our WR’s look when we have them run real routes. Our guys have been open all night (and have been catching too!)— Matt Sak BBN (@MattSakR2NG) October 29, 2023
Devin Leary with his best game as a Wildcat: 19-25, 267 yards, 2 TD; 5 rushes, 21 yards— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) October 29, 2023
Dane Key with the touchdown! pic.twitter.com/rOSGzGpXz3— Mike Willis (@michael_willis1) October 29, 2023
Football is comical. Passing game is great, run game is not and rush defense is atrocious. Didn't have that combo on my bingo card.— Van Hiles (@vstyles17) October 29, 2023
If you would've told me, we would have 100 more yards passing and UT 100 more yards rushing...I would spit water in your face after laughing uncontrollably.— Van Hiles (@vstyles17) October 29, 2023
Given the last two performances, getting flattened by Georgia and collapsing against Mizzou, plus Stoops’ history out bye weeks, UK’s history vs. UT and the way this game started …— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 29, 2023
I’m fairly impressed by this response by the Wildcats. Made it a fist fight into the fourth.
Octavious Oxendine jumps offside on 4th and 1 to keep the Tennessee offense on the field. Responds with a sack on 3rd down to force the punt.— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) October 29, 2023
Kentucky has a real shot to flip the momentum here in the 4th.
Alex Raynor's 53-yard FG is no good. Would have given Kentucky the lead.— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) October 29, 2023
A doing field goal off the right side going in. A 49 yard field goal barely going in and of course the Incomplete pass that led to a field goal. Oh and can’t tackle anyone to save our life.— Tyler Spriggs (@t_spreezy00) October 29, 2023
Kentucky’s Offense was a lot better tonight— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) October 29, 2023
But the Defense was bad again and there were some bizarre decisions by the two Coordinators
Winnable game that Kentucky went and lost
Final | Tennessee 33, Kentucky 27— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) October 29, 2023
Devin Leary: 28-39, 373 yds, 2 TD; 5 rush, 21 yds
Ray Davis: 16 rush, 42 yds, TD; 3 rec, 28 yds
Dane Key: 7 rec, 113 yds, TD
Jordan Dingle: 4 rec, 61 yds
Barion Brown: 5 rec, 58 yds, TD
Jordan Dingle: 2 rec, 38 yds
Tayvion Robinson: 3 rec, 34…
254 yards on the ground UN-FU€¥-ING BELIEVABLE.— Van Hiles (@vstyles17) October 29, 2023
This is Kentucky’s 11th loss to Tennessee by 6 points or less since 1987— Corey Price (@coreyp08) October 29, 2023