It’s fairly common for Kentucky to be the favorites when they match up against Tennessee in basketball. The Wildcats hold a 154-71 record against the Vols in men’s basketball (although the Vols swept the regular season series this past season). But in football, it’s the reverse. Tennessee is 79-25-9 all-time against the Wildcats on the gridiron, and Kentucky is rarely viewed as the favorite when the two teams face-off.
But as of right now, that’s not the case for Kentucky.
According to Vegas Insider, the early betting odds have Kentucky as a one-point favorite over Tennessee for their Week 11 match-up during the upcoming 2018 football season. The two will face each other in Knoxville on November 10th this season, and according to Allan Bell of 247Sports, it would mark the first time in nearly five decades that the Wildcats would be favored over the Vols in Knoxville if that line remains the same come November.
A sportsbook in Las Vegas released a line with Kentucky opening as a 1-point favorite over Tennessee.
— Allan Bell, Jr. (@AllanBell247) May 25, 2018
Before last year’s match-up, Kentucky was actually listed as a 5.5-point favorite prior to kick-off. The Wildcats were 5-2 at the time and Tennessee was 3-4 and reeling after a 45-7 beat down by Alabama in which they mustered only 108 yards of offense. Running back John Kelly was also suspended for the game for Tennessee.
The Wildcats would use a fourth quarter comeback to defeat Tennessee 29-26 in Lexington last year, earning their first victory over the Vols since a 10-7 win 2011. Last year marked only the second time since 1976 that Kentucky was favored over Tennessee. The only other time came in 2007 when the Wildcats were 2.5-point favorites at home when the two teams met. But Tennessee won 52-50 in a four-overtime thriller.
Kentucky hasn’t won in Knoxville since 1984 when they beat Johnny Majors’ squad 17-12 on November 24th of that year. Tennessee hasn’t lost to the Wildcats in Neyland Stadium since then, and the Vols went on a 26-game winning streak against Kentucky after that loss in 1984 that wasn’t broken until the 10-7 loss in 2011 during Derek Dooley’s second season as UT head coach.
We’re still over three months away from the 2018 college football season starting. There’s plenty of time for perceptions around both programs to change. But right now, oddsmakers and most football analysts believe Kentucky could have a better team than Tennessee in football once again.