Kentucky Opens as Slight Road Favorite Over Vols

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    For the second consecutive year, Tennessee has opened as an underdog to Kentucky. Not in basketball, but in football.

    Last season, the Vols ended up being a four-point underdog on the road to the Wildcats and eventually suffered a 29-26 loss to Kentucky in Lexington. That win marked the first victory for the Wildcats over Tennessee since 2011 and only their third win in the annual series dating back to 1984.

    This year, Tennessee is once again an underdog to Kentucky. Only this time, they’re a home underdog.

    According to BetOnline.ag, the Vols have opened up as a 3.5-point underdog to the Wildcats. Kentucky enters Saturday’s contest as the No. 12 team in the nation according to the most recent AP Poll. The Wildcats only dropped one spot in the poll after suffering a 34-17 loss to then-No. 6 Georgia on Saturday. The Bulldogs gained 331 yards on the ground against Kentucky en route to a decisive victory. The loss cost the Wildcats a shot at their first ever SEC East title. Instead, Georgia won the division for the second straight year.

    Tennessee enters Saturday’s match-up coming off an ugly 14-3 victory over Charlotte that saw UT’s offense gain just 192 yards and only 20 yards on the ground on 26 carries. Tennessee’s offense only scored seven points. Their other touchdown came on an 82-yard punt return for a score by wide receiver Marquez Callaway.

    Kentucky (7-2, 5-2 SEC) is looking to beat the Vols (4-5, 1-4 SEC) in back-to-back seasons for the first time since they defeated the Vols in consecutive years in 1976 and 1977.

    Saturday will mark the first time since 1977 that Kentucky will be ranked and Tennessee won’t be when the two teams face-off. That season was Johnny Majors’ first year as the Vols’ head coach, and No. 7 Kentucky beat unranked Tennessee 21-17 in Lexington.

    In fact, Saturday’s match-up will be only the sixth time in the series’ history that Tennessee will play a Kentucky team that’s ranked in the AP Poll. The Vols are 3-2 all-time against Kentucky when the Wildcats are ranked heading into their game with Tennessee.

    Tennessee leads the all-time series against Kentucky with a 79-25-9 record. The Wildcats won last year and in 2011, but those were both in Lexington. Kentucky hasn’t won in Knoxville since 1984. But this year’s Kentucky team has been all about breaking streaks. They ended a 31-game losing streak to Florida earlier in the season, and their five SEC wins this season are the most in single season since that aforementioned 1977 Kentucky team.

    The Vols and Wildcats will kick-off at 3:30 Eastern on Saturday, November 10th. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.



    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.