The Kentucky Wildcats (4-4, 2-4 SEC) will host the Tennessee Volunteers (4-5, 2-3 SEC) in Lexington on Saturday.
The Wildcats are coming off a bye week after crushing Missouri at home 29-7 the last time they took the field.
Last week, Tennessee saw a similar result against the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Neyland Stadium as the Vols forced turnovers and stuffed the Blazer attack to secure a 30-7 win.
With Brian Maurer out, Tennessee quarterbacks Jarrett Guarantano and J.T. Shrout combined for 181 yards, a touchdown and an interception against UAB’s highly touted defense.
The Vols defense gave up just 237 total yards to the Blazers and forced four turnovers from UAB quarterback Tyler Johnston III.
While Kentucky forced the ball loose five times against Missouri, the Wildcats finished the game with just two fumble recoveries and no picks.
However, Kentucky was able to hold Missouri to just 125 rushing yards and 164 passing yards while putting up a whopping 297 yards on the ground to go with 63 passing yards.
Tennessee’s front seven will be key in this matchup as Kentucky had four scores on the ground in addition to their nearly 300 rushing yards last week.
Kentucky does not turn the ball over in bunches, but the Wildcats lost two fumbles to Missouri. Therefore, Tennessee has a shot at continuing their strong turnover differential.
The Wildcats will have the advantage of playing at home, and Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt acknowledged this at Monday’s press conference.
“It’ll be a hostile environment, so we’re looking forward to the challenge … we’ll have to be at our best to have a shot Saturday,” Pruitt said.
However, Tennessee has improved with each game. If the Vols can continue playing with a high level of intensity on Saturday, they may have a good chance against the Wildcats.
“[The players] believe in what we’re doing here,” Pruitt said. “You know it’s amazing when you believe in something, you kinda stay the course. Our kids believe in what we’re doing.”
This game may be a must-win for the Volunteers if they are to have a shot at a bowl game, but Pruitt insisted that his team is just focused on this game for the time being.
“Listen, we’re not focused on making a bowl game,” Pruitt said. “What we’re focused on is being the best football team we can be and develop as a team to get ready for Kentucky.”
Christian Knox, sports editor – Tennessee 17, Kentucky 10
Though Kentucky has struggled a bit recently, the Wildcats are playing at home and are coming off a bye. However, Tennessee is hot, and all cylinders are firing in all three phases of the Vol team. This will be a defense-heavy matchup, and the difference will prove to be in the trenches.
Ben Gleason, sports photographer – Tennessee 20, Kentucky 17
Tennessee’s rotation of quarterbacks will provide them enough looks to win the field position battle and let their stout defense make big plays. The Volunteers will continue to own Kentucky with a win at Kroger Field.
Game Time and Coverage
Kickoff in Lexington is set for 7:30 p.m. EST on Saturday. The game will air on the SEC Network, and TNJN.com will have further coverage soon after the game.
Edited by Ben Gleason and Ainsley Kelso
Featured image by Ben Gleason