Kentucky at Tennessee
When: Noon Saturday
Never miss a local story.
Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 192, Sirius Channel 133
Last meeting: Tennessee won 52-21 last Halloween night in Commonwealth Stadium.
Favorite: Tennessee is favored by 12 points.
The story line
Kentucky tries to bounce back from a deflating last-second loss to Georgia by earning its first victory in Neyland Stadium since 1984. A UK win would make the Wildcats bowl-eligible and would clinch UK’s first winning SEC record since 1977.
On the spot
The UK wide receivers. For the most part, 2016 has seen consistent improvement from a Kentucky wideout group that was plagued with dropped passes throughout 2015. However, in the 27-24 loss to Georgia, UK wide receivers committed two momentum-changing turnovers. With Kentucky up 21-13, Garrett Johnson lost a fumble after catching a pass for what would have been a 21-yard gain. It led to a Georgia field goal. On the next possession, Jeff Badet bobbled what should have been a 77-yard TD pass, and it became a Georgia interception. UK’s upset chances in Knoxville would be boosted greatly by a bounce-back by the Wildcats wideouts.
The main threat
In three previous games against Kentucky, Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs has run for 151 total yards (50.3 yards a game) and four touchdowns, and he has passed for 729 total yards (243 yards a game) with seven TDs and two interceptions. It will be fascinating to see whether the UK defense has progressed to a point where it can contain a quality dual-threat QB.
Is deflated. Had Kentucky found a way to pull out the Georgia game, the Wildcats — while needing another Florida loss — might very well have been playing for the SEC East championship in Knoxville. Whether UK can put aside its disappointment and gear up for a high-level effort in Neyland Stadium is an obvious key to the game. The first UK victory in Big Orange country since George Adams, Paul Calhoun, Bill Ransdell and Co. did it in 1984 would send electrical charges through the Kentucky fan base.