Following a disappointing 34-17 loss for the SEC East against Georgia, the Wildcats need to refocus on the rest of the season. That starts on Saturday when they visit Knoxville, a place where they have had little success. We are going to look at some of the keys to the game as Kentucky looks to bounce back versus Tennessee.
Kentucky Looks To Bounce Back Versus Tennessee
Getting The Offense Going
Since the second half of the South Carolina game all the way back on September 29th, Kentucky has only scored six offensive touchdowns. In addition Benny Snell has rushed for more than 75 yards only once in the last four games. Teams are crowding the box with eight on the line of scrimmage. Many of the plays including the Wildcat have been ineffective.
Defenses are daring Kentucky to beat them through the air and so far they haven’t had much luck. However over the last two games Terry Wilson has looked much better. He followed a career high 267 yards against Missouri with 226 against Georgia. Wilson’s favorite target has become Lynn Bowden, who is having a breakout season. Over the last two games the sophomore has 18 receptions for 218 yards. Should Eddie Gran’s offense be able to extend the field, that opens up the run game for Snell.
Saturday the Cats face a Volunteers squad giving up 161 yards a game on the ground. On paper at least this looks like a bounce back game for the rushing attack. One thing to keep an eye on is the junior is nursing a sore ankle. That could mean more of A. J. Rose against Tennessee.
Leaning On The Defense
Despite the struggles against Georgia last week, the Kentucky defense has been one of the best in college football in 2018. Last week against Charlotte the Vols ran for only 20 yards in a 14-3 win over the 49ers. On the season Jeremy Pruitt’s squad ranks 119th out of 129 teams in football averaging 333 yards per game.
Josh Allen has absolutely DOMINATED off the edge in the SEC, creating 41 pressures. pic.twitter.com/Sj5D09QIAx
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 6, 2018
One more note on the Kentucky defense. Matt House’s unit will be without safety Darius West for the first half of Saturday. The team’s leading tackler was ejected for a targeting call in the second half of the Georgia loss.
Looking For More History
Throughout the 2018 season a recurring theme for the Wildcats has been rewriting history. Already this year they have broken a 31 game losing streak to Florida and clinched their first winning SEC record since 1977.
A win on Saturday against Tennessee breaks several more streaks for Kentucky. It would be their first eight win regular season since Jerry Claiborne led the Cats to a 9-3 mark in 1984. In addition a victory in Knoxville would be the first since 1984. Doing the math that is 16 straight losses.
Furthermore, a win gives the Cats their first back to back wins over Tennessee since 1976-77. It would also be the first time beating the Vols and Gators in the same year since 1977. One last point of reference; Kentucky has never beaten the two schools on the road in the same season. As you can see the Wildcats can erase a lot of history on Saturday with a win.
So Much To Play For
For the first time in recent memory Kentucky is a road favorite against Tennessee. Beating the Vols on Saturday plus wins over Middle Tennessee and Louisville gives the Cats their first 10 win season since 1977. The Cats only dropped two spots in the latest College Football Playoff rankings which were announced Tuesday night.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) November 7, 2018
Many of the bowl projections have the Cats playing in either the Citrus, Fiesta or Peach Bowls. Either of the first two would be Kentucky’s first New Year’s game since 1999. The other marks the 25th anniversary of Kentucky last playing in the Peach Bowl. The biggest point for Stoops and the staff has been to get these guys to forget about Georgia and focus on the task at hand. There is a huge reward for winning those last three games.
Who Wins On Saturday?
It’s prediction time as Kentucky looks to bounce back versus Tennessee. With so much still on the line don’t expect the Cats to come out flat against the Vols. Kentucky’s offense hasn’t been good and the defense has been carrying them. However Tennessee’s offense isn’t that strong so the Cats defense should be able to control the game.
Look for a rather low scoring game that Kentucky wins and ends several more streaks of futility against Tennessee. As a result they keep marching towards that huge New Year’s day game.
Kentucky 20 Tennessee 10
Up next is the Senior Day as Kentucky hosts the high powered offense of Middle Tennessee. We will have everything to get you ready for that game next week here at Last Word On College Football.