Mark Story

Blue Preview: Your guide to Kentucky’s game at Tennessee

Kentucky at Tennessee

When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.

TV: SEC Network (play-by-play, Taylor Zarzour; analyst, John Congemi; sideline, Kris Budden)

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 192, Sirius Channel 119

Records: Kentucky (7-2, 5-2 SEC); Tennessee (4-5, 1-4 SEC)

Series: Tennessee leads 79-25-9

Last meeting: Kentucky defeated Tennessee 29-26 on Oct. 26, 2017, at Kroger Field in Lexington

Favorite: Kentucky is favored by 5 1/2 points

The story line

Coming off a loss to Georgia in the de facto SEC East championship game, Kentucky seeks to avoid falling prey to a letdown at Tennessee in what is the epitome of a “trap game.” The Wildcats will seek to win in Knoxville for the first time since 1984 and to defeat the Volunteers in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1976 and ‘77.

Tavin Richardson vs Tennessee
Kentucky wide receiver Tavin Richardson (11) caught three passes for 52 yards last year against Tennessee and played a big role in UK’s 29-26 win over UT. Mark Mahan

The big threat

Marquez Callaway. The junior wide receiver leads the Volunteers with 30 receptions that have gone for 402 yards. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound product of Warner Robins, Ga., took a punt 82 yards to the house to get Tennessee on the scoreboard in what became a 14-3 slog past Charlotte last week.

Marquez Callaway hugging Butch Jones.JPG
Tennessee standout wide receiver Marquez Callaway (1) hugged ex-UT head coach Butch Jones, now an analyst on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama, after the Crimson Tide whacked the Volunteers 58-21 earlier this season. Wade Payne Associated Press

On the spot

The Kentucky defense. After doing stellar work through the season’s first eight games, the Wildcats’ defense was gashed by Georgia to the tune of 331 rushing yards and 444 total yards in a 34-17 drubbing. For a UK team whose offense has not scored as many as 20 points in any of its last four games, it is imperative that the Wildcats’ “D” not lose its mojo down the stretch.

The mood

Is apprehensive. For the Cats to complete a “special season,” a victory at UT is a must — and Kentucky has been a better football team than Tennessee in 2018. History has painfully taught Wildcats backers, however, that nothing ever comes easy for UK football teams vs. the Rocky Toppers.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory

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