Kentucky Seeking to Get Back on Track Against Rival Tennessee

Kentucky Seeking to Get Back on Track Against Rival Tennessee

Kentucky returns home for the first time in nearly a month, seeking to end a two-game losing streak when border rival Tennessee arrives Saturday night. Game time is 7 p.m. EDT and it will air on ESPN2 and the UK Sports Network. The Cats and Vols will be playing before UK’s third-straight sellout crowd.

Despite the two-game skid there is still plenty of meat on the bone for the Cats, who can clinch a winning SEC record, second place in the SEC East and a third win over the Volunteers in the past five meetings with a victory Saturday at Kroger Field. The Cats have not won back-to-back games vs. Tennessee since 1976-77.

Offensively, the Wildcats have been guided by quarterback Will Levis, who is completing 66.3 percent of his passes for 1,476 yards and 14 touchdowns. Levis’ top target has been Wan’Dale Robinson, who is among the leading receivers in the Southeastern Conference with 58 catches for 645 yards and five TDs. The ground game has been paced by Christopher Rodriguez Jr., who has rushed for 809 yards and five scores, and he ranks second in the league in rushing with 101.1 yards per game.
The Kentucky defense has been most exceptional in 2021, with linebackers DeAndre Square and Jacquez Jones leading the team in tackles, while safety Yusuf Corker and defensive end Josh Paschal are among the SEC leaders in pass breakups and tackles for loss, respectively.

Kentucky vs. Tennessee
Sat., Nov. 6 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Kroger Field
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK | UT
Digital Gameday Program
Gameday App

Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Stats

UK Team Stats UT
6-2 Record 4-4
4-2 Conference Record 2-3
27.0 Scoring/game 37.4
366.2 Total offense/game 457.2
175.2 Rushing yards/game 226.1
191.0 Passing yards/game 231.1
16.9 Kickoff returns (avg) 23.5
12.5 Punt returns (avg) 10.1
46.1 Punting (avg) 43.8
28:35 Time of possession/game 25:19
47.8% Third down conversion 46.0%
50.0% Fourth down conversion 46.7%
20.8 Points allowed/game 26.5
338.8 Total yards allowed/game 393.6
116.0 Rush yards allowed/game 144.4
222.8 Pass yards allowed/game 249.2

Cat Scratches: Coen, UK Offense Hoping Balance Returns

Over the past two games, the Kentucky offense has gotten away from something that offensive coordinator Liam Coen always out of his unit. It’s a word he used over and over during his press conference on Tuesday. And it’s always his goal.


After falling behind against both Georgia and Mississippi State, the Cats were forced to go away from the ground game and put the ball in the air almost exclusively. That makes it tough to move the ball, since the defense knows what’s coming.

“It just spiraled, then you end up having to throw the ball for the rest of the game to stay in it,” Coen said. “The turnovers really got us off of our balance. We got off balance and that’s definitely something that can affect your whole game plan. Those things can happen but that’s obviously not the plan in any week.”

And that’s not a recipe for success.

“You lose your balance when you’re not getting it going,” Coen said. “We had the ball for five minutes and 40 seconds in the second half. Once we threw the picks and had the turnovers early in the second half, it now becomes a throw game. Going into the half, I wasn’t planning on throwing the ball as much as we had to in the second half.”

This week, Coen has his unit paying close attention to ever detail…Read More

Series vs. Tennessee

• Tennessee leads 81-26-9 overall, including a 38-15-3 edge in Lexington In 2020, Kentucky won in Knoxville for the first time since 1984.
• The longtime rivals have split the past four meetings after Tennessee had won 31 of 32 meetings from 1985 through 2016.
• UK’s last win in Lexington came in 2017 when quarterback Stephen Johnson scored on a lastminute touchdown run and the Wildcats defeated the Vols, 29-26. Running back Benny Snell Jr. led the Wildcats with 180 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
• This season marks the 10-year anniversary of Kentucky ending a 26-year drought against the Volunteers. In that game on Nov. 26, 2011, wide receiver Matt Roark served as the emergency starter at quarterback and helped lead the Cats to an improbable 10-7 win in Lexington.
• With 116 total games played, it is third-most played rivalry in Southeastern Conference history. Only Auburn-Georgia (125 games) and Ole Miss-Mississippi State (117) have been played more.
• The two teams have played annually since 1919 except for 1943 (war year, no team for either school).
• Biggest UK win: 56 (56-0) in 1893 in Knoxville
• Biggest Tennessee win: 52 (52-0) in 1994 in Knoxville
• Games decided by 7 points or less (excluding ties): Tennessee leads 28-12
• UK coach Mark Stoops is 2-6 vs. Tennessee during his tenure.

A UK Win Would…

• Give the Cats back-to-back wins over Tennessee for the first time since the 1976 and 1977 seasons.
• Give the Cats their first win over the Vols in Lexington since a 29-26 win in 2017.
• Give UK three wins in a span of five meetings vs. Tennessee since going 8-2-1 during the 1953-1964 stretch.
• Move UK to 5-2 in SEC play and clinch a winning conference record for the second time under head coach Mark Stoops (2018). It would be the second winning SEC record for UK since the 1977 team finished 6-0 in league play.
• Clinch at least second place in the 2021 SEC Eastern Division standings.
• Give the Cats nine wins in the past 11 games.
• Give Stoops 29 SEC victories at UK, extending his school record.
• Give Stoops 56 career victories at UK, putting him just four wins shy of tying Paul “Bear” Bryant for the school’s all-time winning coach.

Kentucky-Tennessee Connections

• Kentucky has three players from state of Tennessee: DB Adrian Huey (Nashville), OT Darian Kinnard (Knoxville) and DL Tre’Vonn Rybka (Dickson).
• Tennessee has one player on its roster from Kentucky: DB Trel Riley (Princeton).
• UK special assistant to the head coach Eddie Gran was the special teams coordinator and RB coach at Tennessee in 2009. He coached in the Chick-fil-A Bowl that season.
• UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart worked in Tennessee athletics from 1986-98.

Last Meeting vs. Tennessee

• Kentucky defeated No. 18 Tennessee, 34-7, in Knoxville on Oct. 17, 2020, ending a 36-year victory drought in Knoxville dating to the 1984 season.
• It was the first win in Knoxville over a ranked Tennessee team in school history and the largest margin of victory (27) there since a 56-0 win in 1893, the first game of the 116-game series.
• It was the largest margin of victory on the road vs. an Associated Press-ranked team in school history.
• UK got interceptions on three consecutive possessions in the second quarter, returning the first two for touchdowns.
• Kentucky played a dominant second half, winning 17-0. The UK defense allowed only 84 yards in the second half, 65 of which did not come until Tennessee’s final possession.
• QB Terry Wilson completed 12-of-15 passes for 101 yards and a score while adding 32 rushing yards as he became only the second quarterback in UK history to win at both Florida and Tennessee in their career (Derrick Ramsey).
• RB Chris Rodriguez led the Wildcats on the ground with 13 carries for 73 yards, including a two-yard touchdown run that closed the scoring.
• LB Jamin Davis had an 85-yard INT return for a score on the next possession, the eighthlongest in school history. It was UK’s longest interception return vs. an SEC opponent since Darryl Bishop had a 97-yard runback in 1972.
• Then-UK offensive line coach John Schlarman, who was battling stage four cancer, was given the game ball by coach Mark Stoops afterwards. It was the final game Schlarman coached before he passed away less than a month later.


Related Stories

View all