Tennessee Volunteers vs. Kentucky Wildcats Prediction & Game Preview - 11/06/2021

by Chuck Sommers

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

Season record
Tennessee: 4-4 (2-3 SEC)
No. 18 Kentucky: 6-2 (4-2 SEC)

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Tennessee - Kentucky preview and analysis


Last week
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.

Prediction


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

Betting trends


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.

Statistical leaders


Tennessee:
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

Kentucky:
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

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this Tennessee - Kentucky prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NCAA projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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