Game time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Kroger Field, Lexington, KY
Where to watch: ESPN2
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Kentucky -1
BetMGM: Kentucky -1.5
Caesars: Kentucky -1
Tennessee: 4-4 (2-3 SEC)
No. 18 Kentucky: 6-2 (4-2 SEC)
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Tennessee - Kentucky preview and analysis
Tennessee: Off (lost 52-24 vs. No. 4 Alabama on Oct. 23)
Kentucky: lost 31-17 at Mississippi State on Saturday
Now that their dreams of being an SEC darkhorse are dashed, the Kentucky Wildcats will try to avoid a three-game losing streak when hosting the Tennessee Volunteers in Lexington on Saturday.
After a 6-0 start that set the college football world on fire, the Wildcats have been brought back to Earth. If losing to the Georgia Bulldogs weren’t enough of a wake-up call, losing to the Mississippi State Bulldogs should do it for UK.
Kentucky turned it over four times, three of them interceptions from quarterback Will Levis, to allow Mississippi State to pull away in the second half and win by two touchdowns. Leading rusher Chris Rodriguez Jr. was held to just eight carries for 34 yards, while Levis threw for only 150 yards and a touchdown.
"We didn't match the intensity. I felt like we got pushed around," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "We were not able to run the ball. They ran the ball. They made competitive plays, approached, outcoached us, outplayed us in every area. So overall, just a very deflation defeat."
Kentucky was such a weird team that it seemed like it was only a matter of time before it came back crashing down. The offense isn’t dominant; Rodriguez is a talented running back, but Levis isn’t that quarterback you can rely on to win a game. The defense is athletic and remains a constant in Stoops’ repertoire. But is it enough to carry that program in the midst of Alabama and Georgia? Clearly right now, not yet. But still good enough to finish these final four games strong.
The Vols are coming off a four-touchdown beatdown at the hands of the aforementioned Crimson Tide. Tennessee actually hung around and trailed by seven in the fourth quarter until Alabama erupted for three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter that lasted at least five plays or less.
Quarterback Hendon Hooker had a great game throwing for 282 yards and three touchdowns, but a fourth-quarter interception ended all hope rather quickly.
"I thought Hendon battled all night long," Vols coach Josh Heupel said. "I thought he was really efficient for the most part during the football game. I thought he continued to fight and play in the second half and had some big-time plays."
There’s no time for Tennessee to rest after this week with Georgia coming up next week.
Last season in Knoxville, the Wildcats used 187 rushing yards to propel them to a win over the Vols by 27 points. Kentucky has lost its chance to be among the tier with Bama and UGA, but Kentucky should feel good heading into this matchup in getting a victory and rebound in the SEC East. Kentucky by 17
Tennessee is 4-10 ATS coming off a loss via the spread.
Kentucky is 14-4 ATS in its last 18 home games.
Kentucky is 5-1 ATS after covering in a stretch of four of its last five.
Passing: Hendon Hooker -- 1,578 yards, 17 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Tiyon Evans -- 516 yards, 6 TD
Receiving: Velus Jones Jr. -- 453 yards, 4 TD
Defense: Jeremy Banks -- 60 tackles, 4.5 sacks
Passing: Will Levis -- 1,476 yards, 14 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Chris Rodriguez Jr. -- 809 yards, 5 TD
Receiving: Wan’Dale Robinson -- 645 yards, 5 TD
Defense: DeAndre Square -- 62 tackles, 3 sacks
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