UK Football

Tennessee at Kentucky: Keys to the game

Tennessee (5-6, 1-6 SEC) at Kentucky (4-7, 1-6)

When: 12:21 p.m.


Radio: WLAP AM-630; WBUL FM-98.1; XM Channel 200; Sirius Premier Package Channel 218

Series: Tennessee leads 74-23-9 and has won the last 26 games in a row

Last meeting: Tennessee won 24-14 on Nov. 27, 2010, in Knoxville, Tenn.

Line: Tennessee is favored by nine points


The Keys

1. Protect Maxwell Smith

Last week at Georgia, UK surrendered five quarterback sacks and Maxwell Smith wound up with a sprained throwing shoulder. It will be a game-time decision whether Smith or Morgan Newton starts Saturday. To have its best chance at pulling an upset of the Volunteers, Kentucky needs the true freshman Smith on the field and upright.

2. Force turnovers

Given the limited amount of playmaking ability the Kentucky offense has displayed this season, creating scoring opportunities from UT miscues seems UK's best hope of victory. After forcing four turnovers at Georgia last week, can the Wildcats defense bring the lumber with a similar fury for a second game in a row?

3. Let'er rip

In recent years when its had chances to beat Tennessee — and it has had them — UK has often seemed to feel the weight of the world in late-game situations and played not to lose instead of to win. This time, all the pressure should be on UT, which needs a victory to become bowl-eligible. Kentucky has nothing to lose. The Cats need to go bold and take chances in pursuit of victory.

The Mood

In many ways, Kentucky played its best game of what has been a disappointing season last Saturday at Georgia. Still, most of the talk this week has been about the job security (or lack there of) of Joker Phillips. This rocky UK football season would feel a whole lot like a success if the Cats could end with a much-longed-for squeezing of the Big Orange.