First off, let me get this out of my system. Tennessee sucks. Everything about them sucks. Those colors. That ridiculously annoying song that they play after every two-yard gain. And what makes the song even more annoying is that it somehow gets stuck in your head. I hate them. Can’t stand them. And the fact that I’ve never seen UK beat them in football in my life makes it even worse.
Early in the year, many prognosticated that this was going to be the year for the Cats to down the Vols. Tennessee really struggled early on as they lost six of their first eight games, with their two wins a 50-0 crushing of mighty Tennessee-Martin and an overtime victory over UAB. Needless to say, neither win really gave them a real bode of confidence.
But, now the Vols are on a three-game winning streak and are a game away from bowl eligibility. At the start of their three-game stretch rookie head coach Derek Dooley switched quarterbacks, inserting freshman Tyler Bray for the much-maligned Matt Simms. In those three games, all wins, Bray is 53-of-94 for 880 yards, 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Both of his interceptions came last week against Vandy. The Vols have put up 126 points in those three games.
One positive for the Cats defense, in regards to Bray, is that he isn’t much of a threat to break the pocket and run. Combine that with the fact that Tennessee’s offensive line has given up more sacks than any other line in the SEC and you see an opportunity for a UK front four that has really struggled all year long. If they can get through and put some pressure on Bray, they may be able to rattle the freshman and force some much-needed turnovers.
Look for Tennessee to try to establish their running game early with Junior running back Tauren Poole (5-11, 213) who is seventh in the SEC with 935 yards and he is averaging 5.3 yards an attempt. He has punched it in ten times.
The Vols have an ample receiving core that is led by senior Denarius Moore (6-1, 194), who has 36 catches for 707 yards and eight touchdowns. In the three games that Bray has started, he has 12 catches for 222 yards and three touchdowns. He is a speedy receiver that has the ability to get past defenders and break big plays at anytime.
Tennessee’s defensive unit has struggled all year long as they rank near the bottom of the SEC in nearly every defensive category. Kentucky has proven week-in and week-out that they have the ability to score on anyone in the country. Add in a week of rest with the bye week and they should have absolutely zero problems putting points on the board.
Three of the last four games between Tennessee and Kentucky have been decided by less than a touchdown, with two of those games going to overtime. This should be another close one, so UK fans be sure to take your heart medicine before this one gets started.
It appears that Kentucky is facing Tennessee at the wrong time, much like they did Georgia. But, the fact is that their last three games have been wins over Memphis, Ole Miss and Vandy. They beat Memphis 50-14, but Memphis sucks, Louisville beat them 56-0. Ole Miss turned the ball over five times and Vandy is well, Vandy.
For Kentucky to end this torrid losing streak, they can’t let Poole run all over them, they have to put pressure on Bray and they can’t turn the ball over. Turnovers have been absolutely vital in all of Kentucky’s games this year. Too many times they have given away games with costly mistakes. Their margin for error is just not big enough to give away free points.
Problem is that the Vols will put up points as well. If the Cats make them drive for their points instead of giving them freebies, they still win. If not, the streak continues.
I think the Cats go in to Knoxville mentally prepared and ready to go. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but they win. The streak is over. Hallelujah!
Kentucky 37, Tennessee 31