Mark Story

Blue Preview: Your guide to Kentucky’s football game with Tennessee

Kentucky vs. Tennessee

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 9)

Where: Kroger Field (capacity 61,000)

TV: SEC Network (play-by-play, Tom Hart; analysis, Jordan Rodgers; sideline, Cole Cubelic)

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 190, Sirius 133, Internet 961

Records: Kentucky (4-4, 2-4 SEC); Tennessee (4-5, 2-3 SEC)

Series history: Tennessee leads 80-25-9 and has won 32 of the past 34 meetings.

Last meeting: Tennessee upset No. 12 Kentucky 24-7 on Nov. 10, 2018, at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Line: Kentucky is favored by one point.

The story line

Kentucky will seek to avenge last season’s dispiriting upset loss at Tennessee. UK will try to beat UT for the second straight time in games played in Lexington — a feat the Wildcats have not achieved since beating the Volunteers in 1957 and 1959. A Kentucky win would make the Cats 3-2 vs. the Vols in Lexington in the current decade. That would be the first time since the 1950s (4-1) UK held the advantage over UT on its home field in a decade.

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Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson dove into the end zone to score the game-winning touchdown in UK’s 29-26 win over Tennessee in 2017. Ken Weaver

The big threat

Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings is both the Volunteers’ most dynamic offense weapon (47 catches for 722 yards and seven touchdowns) and the emotional leader for Coach Jeremy Pruitt’s Vols. In Tennessee’s 41-21 win over South Carolina two Saturdays ago, the 6-foot-3, 208-pound redshirt senior put on a show. Jennings started at quarterback in the wildcat formation, then went on to catch seven passes for a career-high 174 yards and two touchdowns.

Jauan Jennings.JPG
Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings (15) is the Volunteers’ leading receiver with 47 catches for 722 yards and seven touchdowns. Wade Payne AP

On the spot

Lynn Bowden. In the three games since UK’s explosive slot receiver was installed as its starting quarterback, Bowden has worked magic. The junior from Youngstown, Ohio, has run for 499 yards and four touchdowns and thrown for one score. Conventional wisdom says the longer you stay with a wide receiver at quarterback, the less effective it becomes. Can Bowden continue to defy the norm?

The mood

Has perked up. With Kentucky having won two of three games with Lynn Bowden at quarterback, the football interest of Wildcats fans has rekindled. Kentucky football victories over Tennessee have been rare across the recent decades so a second straight UK win over UT in games played at Kroger Field would put a charge into the Big Blue Nation.

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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.
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