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2023 Kentucky Football Foes: Tennessee Volunteers

Taking down the Vols has been harder than winning in The Swamp.

Smokey, Vols Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Greetings, BBN!

Continuing our previews with the Week 9 game following Week 8’s bye, we arrive at the fourth Saturday of October with the Kentucky Wildcats going up against none other than the Tennessee Volunteers at Kroger Field.

Kentucky will head into this game as well rested as you can be in the heart of an SEC schedule, coming off of a home game with Missouri and a bye week, while the Vols will be traveling to Lexington two weeks after hosting Texas A&M and one week after the third Saturday of October of course, which they’ll have spent in Bryant-Denny Stadium with Nick Saban and the redemption-minded Crimson Tide.

Perfect time for the Cats to catch them, if you ask me.

Let’s dive into this matchup.

Tennessee at Kentucky

  • Time/Date: TBD time on October 28th
  • Location: Sanford Stadium
  • TV Channel: TBD
  • Early Odds: ESPN FPI gives the Cats a 63.2% chance of winning.

Of all UK’s regular opponents, no squad has been more slippery and elusive in the Stoops Era than Tennessee. Kentucky’s won only two of the ten meetings, and one of those in the final minute.

Some of the eight losses have been blowouts (like last year...), but in 2021 they lost a 45-42 shootout in Lexington, and in 2019 fell 17-13 after leading by 10 at half. Not all the Vol teams they’ve played have even been that good (the 2017 and 2018 teams missed bowls even), but it’s never made victory any easier.

In this year’s home game, the Cats will be looking to edge them in Lexington for the first time in six years and hope to not drop a third straight one-score home game to their bitter rival.

As mentioned above, Tennessee will be traveling to Lexington at the perfect time for the Cats, and if UK’s lucky, they might be coming in with multiple SEC losses having already played at Florida and Alabama, as well as hosting Texas A&M.

Unless they lose all three of those games, however, I don’t see the Vols coming into this game unranked or anything, so barring injuries, the Cats should be facing a nationally elite (but possibly beat-up) Volunteer squad.

Momentum will play a huge role, but honestly, I think the biggest thing will be whether or not the Cats can just not blow opportunities given to them throughout four quarters of gritty football.

Prediction: UK won’t beat everyone this season and will have some rough nights, probably lose to a team or two they shouldn’t like when they fell to South Carolina and Vanderbilt last season, but they’re due for one against Tennessee. I especially think they win this game if they’ve already dropped games against Florida and Georgia, putting them at 6-2 nine weeks in with either a loss to Florida and a win against Tennessee or a win over Florida and a loss to Tennessee.

History doesn’t repeat itself indefinitely, and the Cats raise some eyebrows by playing the overlooked underdog role they so often thrive in.

Kentucky 33, Tennessee 31