Big Blue Preview: Kentucky at Tennessee

Big Blue Preview: Kentucky at Tennessee

Info to Know

Kentucky at Tennessee | When: Sat., Oct. 29, 7 p.m. ET | Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn. | TV: ESPN | Radio: UK Sports Network


No. 19/17 Kentucky will face No. 3/3 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, Saturday, Oct. 29 for a 7 p.m. ET kick off on ESPN, looking to be bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive season.

The Wildcats are coming off their open date, and a chance for key players to get healthier. Before that, then-No. 22/22 Kentucky defeated then-No. 16/17 Mississippi State, 27-17, marking UK’s second ranked triumph of the season. It is the third-straight season, and fourth instance in the last five seasons, that UK has won two games against ranked opponents. Prior to 2018, the Wildcats had just one season with multiple wins against ranked foes in the previous 40 years (two in 2007).

Quarterback Will Levis made his return to game action against the Bulldogs, sitting out the week prior after suffering a foot injury. The Wildcats had 478 yards of total offense against the Bulldogs, spread even with 239 passing yards and a season-high 239 rushing yards. Kentucky’s open date last weekend provided the opportunity for key Cats to get healthier before its border battle in Knoxville.

Cat Scratches: Kentucky Defense Preparing for Potent Vols’ Offense

When Kentucky and Tennessee met last season at Kroger Field, things did not start well for the Cats. In fact, the early portion of the game could not have been much worse, especially for the UK defense.

Tennessee took the opening kickoff and, on it’s first play from scrimmage, scored on a 75-yard pass from Hendon Hooker to JaVonta Payton. The Vols led 7-0 just 11 seconds into the game.

After Kentucky tied the game on a Kavoisey Smoke touchdown run, the Vols struck quickly again. This time, it took UT three plays to cover 75 yards, the final 72 coming on a pass from Hooker to Velus Jones. Tennessee had scored 14 points in four plays and a total of 37 seconds off the clock.

Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White summed it up succinctly…Read More

Kentucky-Tennessee Series

• Tennessee leads the series 82-26-9, while it has won the last three out of five meetings.
• Tennessee leads 43-11-6 in games played in Knoxville.
• Kentucky has outscored Tennessee 125-119 in the last five meetings.
• The Volunteers have a one-game winning streak over the Wildcats.
• In 2021, Tennessee defeated Kentucky in a heartbreaking 45-42 loss in Lexington, UK’s only home loss of the season.
• The Cats last defeated the Vols on Oct. 17, 2020, 34-7, in Knoxville. Prior to that road triumph, Kentucky had not won in Knoxville since 1984.
• The two teams have played annually since 1919, excluding 1943 when neither team played because of World War II.
• With 117 games played between the two teams, it is the third-most played rivalry in the Southeastern Conference. It is behind Auburn-Georgia (126) and Ole Miss-Mississippi State (118).
• Biggest UK win: 56 (56-0) in 1893 in Knoxville
• Biggest UT win: 52 (52-0) in 1994 in Knoxville

Kentucky-Tennessee Connections

• The Tennessee roster includes two players from the state of Kentucky in LB Kalib Perry (Georgetown) and Trel Riley (Princeton).
• Kentucky’s roster has six players from the state of Tennessee in WR Barion Brown (Nashville), QB Destin Wade (Spring Hill), OLB Keaten Wade (Spring Hill), DB Brady Pierce (Spring Hill), DBAdrian Huey (Nashville) and DL Tre’vonn Rybka (Dickson).
• Additionally, RB Dee Beckwith played at Tennessee as a freshman in 2020 and a redshirt freshman in 2021, before transfering to Kentucky. He played in three games total at UT.
• 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-fi l-A Bowl that season.
• UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart worked in Tennessee Athletics from 1986-98.

A UK Win Would…

• Make Kentucky 6-2 and clinch bowl eligibility for the sixth-straight season.
• Give UK a win over the highest-ranked Tennessee team in school history. UK’s current highest ranked win over Tennessee was in 1957, a 20-6 win over the No. 12 Volunteers.
• Be the fourth-highest ranked win in school history, following victories over No. 1 Oklahoma on Jan. 1, 1951 (13-7 in Sugar Bowl/New Orleans), No. 1 Ole Miss in 1964 (27-21 in Jackson) and No. 1 LSU in 2007 (43-37, three overtimes in Lexington).
• Be the highest-ranked win in an opponent’s campus stadium in school history. The current mark is the 24-20 upending at No. 4-rated Penn State in 1977. (Note: the 1964 win at Ole Miss was in Jackson.)
• Split the series with Tennessee over the last six games, 3-3.
• Give Kentucky back-to-back road wins at Tennessee for the first time since 1962 and ‘64 and only the third time in school history (also 1910 and ‘12).
• Give UK its third win over a ranked opponent this season, marking the first time doing so since 2018 and just the fifth time doing so in program history (also 1951, 1976, 1977).
• Extend Stoops’ all-time record of wins at Kentucky to 65 and his all-time record of SEC wins at Kentucky to 32

By the Numbers

Wins by Kentucky against ranked teams so far this season (Florida and Mississippi State)

Times Kentucky has won against Tennessee in Knoxville all-time, including a 34-7 win at Neyland Stadium in 2020

Career 100-yard rushing games for Chris Rodriguez Jr., including two such games this season

Wins by Stoops-coached Kentucky teams when UK has a 100-yard rusher. The Cats have only lost 16 times in such games under Stoops

Yards rushing needed for Rodriguez to pass Moe Williams for third on the UK career rushing yards list



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