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Buy or Sell: Tennessee at Kentucky

Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics

Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee will “buy or sell” the likelihood of several things happening each week before a Tennessee football game. Here are their takes on the Vols’ match-up with the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington. 

Buy or Sell: Both teams have two players take snaps at quarterback.

Nathanael: Definitely buying this. I think we could see as many as five total players take snaps at quarterback in this game. Kentucky will probably have both Lynn Bowden Jr. and Sawyer Smith play quarterback at different points, and I think Tennessee at the very least will have Brian Maurer and Jauan Jennings take snaps at quarterback. I also think there’s a chance Jarrett Guarantano gets in the game, meaning there could be five QBs who take snaps on Saturday.

Ben: Sawyer Smith will make an appearance at quarterback along with Lynn Bowden Jr., and in addition to Jarrett Guarantano, a second Tennessee quarterback will play — so I’ll buy. If Maurer is healthy, he’ll start, but I think we may see Guarantano for a possession or two. If Maurer doesn’t play, we’ll see Shrout along with Guarantano like we have the last two weeks.

Buy or Sell: Neither team scores more than 20 points on Saturday.

Nathanael: I was very close to buying this, then it came time to make my prediction, and I predicted a score slightly over 20 points for the winner.

With that being said, it wouldn’t shock me at all if neither team eclipses 20 points. The Vols have held three of their last four opponents to 21 or fewer points, and Kentucky has held all but two of their eight opponents to under 24 points this season. I don’t expect this to be a high scoring game by any means.

Ben: Sell, as you can see by my score prediction, I think the winner scores 24. It’ll be a defensive game, but not that much of a defensive game. One thing to consider, though, is that Kentucky has allowed 24 points or less in 20 of its last 23 games. Tennessee’s defense has been playing well as of late, also.

Buy or Sell: The Vols will have a 100-yard rusher against Kentucky. 

Nathanael: Kentucky has allowed a player to run for 100 yards against them about six or seven times this season, and they’ve twice allowed a team to have two 100-yard rushers in the same game. I know the Vols have struggled to run the ball consistently and efficiently for large parts of this season, and UT’s offensive line is a little banged up heading into this game. But I’m going to buy this. Ty Chandler’s first 100-yard game of his career came against Kentucky in his freshman season, and he totaled 89 yards against them last season. I think he could top 100 yards again.

Ben: No, because Tennessee’s offensive line is banged up. If we were talking about the healthy Tennessee offensive line from the month of October that played extremely well against Mississippi State, Alabama, and South Carolina, then I would buy it. Ty Chandler or Tim Jordan, whoever has the most amount of carries, will finish with around 80 rushing yards.

Buy or Sell: Both teams will turn the ball over two times apiece in this game.

Nathanael: I’ll sell this one, but I’ll also add that both UT and UK have been fairly turnover-prone this season. Kentucky has turned the ball over at least once in every single game they’ve played this season, and the Wildcats have given the ball away two or more times in four of their eight games. Tennessee has totaled two or more turnovers in five of their nine games this year.

Ben: Sell. Tennessee has done a good job of taking care of the football of late. I expect for that trend to continue. With Kentucky, I don’t expect them to air it out a ton. The Cats will ride Bowden and their rushing attack, so there won’t be as many opportunities as usual to pick off passes for the Tennessee secondary.

Buy or Sell: Mark Stoops is Kentucky’s head coach next season.

Nathanael: I’ll buy this for now. It doesn’t look like Florida State wants to make a smart hire at this point in time, instead focusing on outlandish candidates. Maybe it’s all a smokescreen (which we’ve certainly seen here at UT), but I don’t know. I just feel like Stoops will be at Kentucky next season and for a while unless something that makes more geographic sense for him opens up in the near future.

Ben: Buy, although I think Florida State should be considering his name much more seriously than it appears they are. From the outside looking in, it looks like the Seminoles are considering crazy options, rather than safe ones. Stoops would be tremendous at Florida State.

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