Game Preview: Kentucky vs. Tennessee

Photo: Regina Rickert
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - After a tough loss against No. 6 Georgia last week, Kentucky will travel to take on Tennessee (4-5, 1-4 SEC) at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

The No. 11 Wildcats (7-2, 5-2 SEC) are looking to beat the Vols for the first time on the road since 1984.

Here are three things to watch for as Mark Stoops team takes on their longtime SEC foe.

(1) Will the offense improve? More Snell?

The Cats junior running back Benny Snell Jr. eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in a season for the third time in his career against Georgia. He needs to keep racking up yards to support Kentucky's stagnant offense.

Against the Bulldogs, Snell only tallied 73 yards. For Kentucky to avoid dropping another game, he needs to be the focal point of the offense against a Tennessee defense allowing 161 yards per game on the ground. Kentucky's offense has not scored more than 17 points in its last three games. Many Wildcat fans are hoping for a change in that area down the final stretch of the season.

(2) Kentucky's pass rush

The Tennessee Volunteers are missing two starters on their offensive line going into Saturday's game, which will leave vulnerabilities on the edge. Last week against Charlotte, the Vols struggled to give any time to pass for their quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. That opens the door for defensive end Josh Allen and the Wildcats pass rush.

"The passing game is really strong this week," Allen said earlier this week on Tennessee's offense. "We have to compliment that with a lot of great rushes . . . and get pressure this week."

Allen has 10 sacks on the year and has been dominant in the key wins for the Wildcats this season. Kentucky's defense faltered against Georgia's potent offense last week allowing more than 300 yards rushing. They have an opportunity to bounce back against a Volunteer offense missing some pieces up front.

(3) Trap game?

Many pundits across college football are calling this match-up a possible upset game due to Kentucky's loss last weekend. But, the Cats have said this week that they are not going to fall for the trap in Knoxville.

"I think our team, we have to be motivated the same way again this week, and each and every week," Stoops said. "That gets to be the challenge as you get through the grind of the season. You get late in the year here, sometimes that monotony sets in and we can't let that happen."

Tennessee is coming in with everything to play for as a bowl bid is on the line. The Volunteers, who are led by first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt, need to win two of their final three games to earn a bowl game.

Yet, Stoops said his players are ready to go.

"The guys have been very good," Stoops said. "Nobody is perfect. Everybody is going to have some ups and downs. But, we have enough guys on this team and enough leaders. You saw that Saturday after the game and I anticipate the guys will come in ready to go."

The game will be aired on WKYT on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.



 
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