For the third-straight season, Kentucky will be favored to beat the Vols when the two face-off in football.
According to Circa Sports, an online betting site, Kentucky (4-4, 2-4 SEC) has opened as slight favorites over Tennessee (4-5, 2-3 SEC) ahead of Saturday’s match-up in Lexington. The Wildcats are currently 3.5-point favorites, marking the third-straight year the Vols will enter their contest against Kentucky as underdogs.
Prior to 2017, Kentucky hadn’t been favored to beat the Vols since 2007. Now, however, the Wildcats have been given the better odds of victory the last three years dating back to 2017.
The last time Tennessee and Kentucky played in Lexington, the Wildcats ended a five-game losing streak to the Vols with a 29-26 victory in 2017. That game was notorious for Tennessee’s Hail Mary at the end of the game being completed two yards short of the end zone. That season was also the first time in UT history that the Vols failed to win a single SEC game, going 0-8.
Last season, Kentucky came into Knoxville as the No. 12 team in the country and were favored by five points. The Vols, however, didn’t let the odds get to them, handling the Wildcats from start to finish in a 24-7 win.
Tennessee has faced Kentucky more than any other team in program history, and the Vols have historically dominated the Wildcats. The Vols are 80-25-9 all-time against Kentucky, though the Wildcats have won two of their last seven meetings against Tennessee. That may not seem significant, but when you consider UK had lost every game they played against the Vols from 1985 through 2010, it becomes a little more impressive.
This season, Kentucky has had to deal with multiple injuries at quarterback. Starter Terry Wilson suffered a season-ending injury after the Wildcats’ first two games of the year, and backup Sawyer Smith has played erratically when he’s been on the field. But Smith has also been injured, and the Wildcats have had to turn to wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. to play quarterback the last few games. Bowden has started at QB the last three games for UK. with the Wildcats defeating Arkansas and Missouri in that stretch. Their only loss with Bowden at quarterback was a 21-0 defeat at the hands of Georgia.
Smith has been tracking to return for Saturday’s match-up against the Vols, but an update on his health will likely come later in the week.
The Vols have also been dealing with injuries at the quarterback position. Starter Brian Maurer has missed the last two games after suffering concussions in back-to-back weeks against Mississippi State and Alabama. Against South Carolina in Week 9, wide receiver Jauan Jennings took the first snap at quarterback, but it was redshirt freshman JT Shrout who played the first couple drives as the main QB. Jarrett Guarantano came in after that and played well before injuring his wrist. The redshirt junior wasn’t held out against UAB this past weekend, though, filling in for Shrout after the first series of the game. Guarantano would be benched temporarily to start the second half, but he would take back over for the large majority of the third and fourth quarters.
Kentucky is coming off a bye week before they take on Tennessee, while the Vols will be playing their sixth-straight game. Kick-off in Lexington is scheduled for 7:30 PM Eastern. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.