Staff Predictions: Can Tennessee Defeat Kentucky?
Volunteer Country Staff
Tennessee suffered a crushing 44-21 defeat at the hands of Georgia last Saturday, and the Vols are now set to host Kentucky for a Noon ET kickoff at Neyland Stadium tomorrow. The Wildcats are coming in off a 24-2 win over Mississippi State on Saturday night. Tennessee opened the betting lines as a seven-point favorite, and the VR2 on SI Staff has their predictions for today's matchup.
Georgia's defense was elite, but Tennessee still sustained some early success with explosive plays. Look for a more balanced attack from the Vols this week, and I expect more success in the running game. Tennessee should be able to get back on track with a Noon ET kick off at home against a rival. The Vols offensive line is ready to get the taste of defeat out of their mouth from last week, and they will be hungry to do so today. I look back to Year 1 under Jeremy Pruitt, where he stifled a solid Kentucky team in Neyland Stadium. I think he is able to do the same this week. Tennessee 31-14.
Tennessee I think the Vols offensive line is more tuned in this week and looking to make a statement. Kentucky is a scrappy bunch that will give Tennessee a fit, however, I believe the run game asserts itself early. Tennessee 35-14
I think that with the way last week went for the Vols, they’re able to handle Kentucky early. But the Wildcats could surge back early in the fourth quarter before Tennessee ultimately puts it away. Tennessee 28-17
The Vols struggled up front last week against Georgia. The Bulldog front made things difficult for the Tennessee offensive line, and questionable play calling coupled with major mistakes allowed Georgia to come after that unit in the second half. The Georgia offensive line finally wore down a Tennessee defensive front that played well, but was on the field the entire second half. This week, Tennessee faces another excellent offensive line and another solid defense in Kentucky. The good news for the Vols is that the Kentucky offensive line doesn't have the same caliber of skill players around that Georgia does. The Kentucky defense is a solid unit, but Georgia has the best defense in the country. The Wildcats have improved under Stoops, but they aren't on a talent level with the Bulldogs yet.
Tennessee should be able to control the line of scrimmage on offense and lean on the Kentucky front like we saw in Weeks 1 and 2. Expect steady doses of Eric Gray and Ty Chandler, as well as runs that can gash the Kentucky defense. Josh Palmer has emerged as a premier weapon for the Vols, and he has had success against Kentucky in the past. Expect him to get some looks on deep balls after the run game is established. The Kentucky defense is opportunistic, but the Vols typically don't turn the ball over much. An efficient Tennessee offense will be hard for the Cats to handle. On defense, the Kentucky line is good, but they are a very one dimensional offense with Terry Wilson at quarterback. It is difficult to beat Jeremy Pruitt using a one dimensional offense. Expect to see Tennessee load the box to stifle the ground game, and force Kentucky to try to win on Terry Wilson's arm. This should create some opportunities for Volunteer defensive backs, and they should cash a few in. The Vols should rebound and win this game convincingly. 35-14 Tennessee
The Vols and Wildcats will kickoff at Noon ET.