Kentucky at Tennessee

The Sports Xchange

November 07, 2018 at 6:21 pm.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
TV: SEC Network
SERIES: Tennessee leads Kentucky 42-10-3. Kentucky won 29-26 in 2017.
RANKINGS: Kentucky No. 11


–QB Terry Wilson was 23-of-29 passing (79.3 percent) for 226 yards in the loss to Georgia, giving him five SEC games with at least 65 percent in completions. He is the first Kentucky quarterback to that since Andre Woodson in 2006. He has completed 67.6 percent of his passes on the season. “Terry certainly looks comfortable right now, just straight drop-back, and he’s doing some good things.” coach Mark Stoops said.

–WR Lynn Bowden has had breakout performances in Kentucky’s last two outings. With a game-high six receptions against Georgia and his 13 catches against Missouri, he has 19 catches in two back-to-back games, the most for a Kentucky receiver since Matt Roark had 20 catches in consecutive appearances in 2011 (Ole Miss and Mississippi State).

–LB Josh Allen had only three tackles, but got the first fumble recoveries of his career with two, Kentucky’s only takeaways of the game. The Wildcats cashed in on one with a field goal, and the other kept Georgia from trying a long field goal in the closing seconds of the first half. “I saw a loose ball and I had to go get it for my team,” Allen said. “It just happened to be me.”


–WR Josh Palmer’s 71 receiving yards and a touchdown against Charlotte moved the sophomore into the team lead with 414 yards. With 18 receptions, Palmer leads the SEC with an average of 23 yards per catch and trails only Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler (23.9 yards per catch) for tops in the nation.

–WR/PR Marquez Callaway provided all the scoring that Tennessee would need in its 14-3 win over Charlotte courtesy of an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown midway through the first quarter. It’s the second career punt return touchdown for the junior and first since taking one 62 yards for a score against Tennessee Tech nearly two years to day in early November of 2016. Callaway has 402 receiving yards on the season, second-most on the team behind Josh Palmer.

–FS Todd Kelly Jr. is returning to his old form after rejoining the secondary three games ago. The senior has 14 tackles, including seven against Charlotte. Kelly amassed 157 career tackles and eight interceptions before a knee injury claimed all but two games last year and the first six of the 2018 campaign.


Not as much will be riding on the game as last week when Kentucky played Georgia with the East Division title and berth in the Southeastern Conference Championship game on the line, but the No. 11 Wildcats still have some goals remaining that would take some of the sting out of their loss to the Bulldogs when they play at Tennessee Saturday.

Kickoff at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville is 3:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

With three games in the regular season and a bowl bid remaining, the Wildcats (7-2, 5-2 SEC) are still within range of tying the school single-season record of 11 wins set by the 1950 Wildcats team coached by Bear Bryant.

They will be going for a sixth SEC victory for the second time in school history and first time since the 1977 team went 6-0 in league play.

“Like I talked last week, the situation is going to change every week,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “This is a different situation. We’re going on the road. We’re playing Tennessee at Tennessee with our last league game.

“It’s very important to us.”

It’ important to the Volunteers (4-5, 1-4 SEC) as well. They need two more wins to reach bowl eligibility in coach Jeremy Pruitt’s first season.

“We’re going to play a really good football team this weekend,” Pruitt said. “I followed coach Stoops at Florida State so I know firsthand what his teams are all about. They’re going to be very well coached and hard-nosed.”

The Vols managed to keep their postseason hopes alive last week with a 14-3 victory over Charlotte, but it was not the dominant performance they were hoping for. They rushed for 60 yards, the fourth time this season they have failed to reach triple digits.

“We didn’t block very well,” Pruitt said. “We basically got whipped at the point of attack. We had some mental errors that we haven’t been having for quite some time.

“We had free guys in the hole. That will get you before you get going. I’d say the health of our running backs is probably like everybody else. It’s November and everybody has bumps and bruises. All of our guys will be ready to play.”

Leading rusher Tim Jordan (414 yards) managed only 18 yards on four carries.

Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano was 16-of-21 passing but for a so-so 172 yards. The good thing: He hasn’t thrown an interception since the fourth game of the season when he threw two in a loss to Florida.

“He is really good when he is in rhythm,” Stoops said of the Tennessee sophomore. “He’s got some really talented wide receivers. He is playing more confident and experience and getting better. He’s done some good things.”

The Wildcats also had difficulty establishing the run last week in their 34-17 loss to No. 5 Georgia, failing to get to 100 yards for the third time in the last four games. Running back Benny Snell tweaked an ankle in the first quarter but returned and rushed for 73 of the team’s total of 84 yards.

He is expected to be ready for the Vols.

“He’s a tough guy,” Pruitt said. “They do a lot with him, lots of Wildcat, so he can obviously handle what they do. They used him a lot as a freshman, which is the last time I coached against him.

“He’s very physical, but he doesn’t take a lot of one-on-one hits. He runs through the soft shoulder, so it’s tough to get him squared up. We’ll have to do a really good job of gang-tackling him.”

As was the case with Florida earlier in the year, when the Wildcats snapped a 31-game losing streak to the Gators, Kentucky will be trying to end another skid against the Vols. The Wildcats haven’t won in Knoxville since 1984, losing 16 in a row in Neyland Stadium.

Stoops discounts that as any sort of motivating factor for his team, however.

“I think just beating Tennessee is important to us,” he said. “Whether there’s a streak involved or not, why would that make a difference to our team? They don’t know anything about 34 years ago.

“To be honest with you, they really don’t care.”