A huge contest in the SEC East is in store this weekend when the #3 Tennessee Volunteers (7-0, 3-0 SEC) look to stay perfect against the #19 Kentucky Wildcats (5-2, 2-2 SEC).
The Vols have managed to win three of the last four contests against the Wildcats, including last year’s 45-42 win in Lexington.
Saturday’s Top 25 kickoff is at 7 p.m. EST inside Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee is an 11.5-point favorite, and the over/under total is 62.0 points.
What to Know – #19 Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky lost two in a row but returned to the win column last week with a victory in their last outing over Mississippi State. The Wildcats will be well rested after enjoying an off-week leading up to Saturday’s showdown.
A lot of the Wildcats’ offense relies on the health and play of senior quarterback Will Levis. Projected to be one of the first QBs off the board in next year’s NFL Draft, he is completing 69.5% of his throws for 1,635 yards. Levis has 13 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season.
Starting running back Christian Rodriguez Jr. missed the first four NCAAF games of the season but has boosted Kentucky’s run game since his return. The senior has carried the ball 72 times for 395 yards with three touchdowns.
A trio of wide receivers have tallied over 300 yards in the pass game, led by Tayvion Robinson, who’s hauled in 25 passes for 392 yards and three TDs. Barion Brown is right behind Robinson, adding 24 catches for 350 yards and a pair of scores.
What to Know – #3 Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee might be the hottest team in football right now with a Heisman candidate at quarterback and an offense that Nick Saban couldn’t stop. The Vols are tied atop the SEC East standings with the Georgia Bulldogs, who they’ll face next week.
Hendon Hooker made the right choice by transferring to Tennessee from Virginia Tech two years ago. Electing to stay another year in Knoxville was another right choice, as the quarterback has thrown for over 2,000 yards with an 18 to one TD/INT ratio.
Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small split the carries out of the backfield for UT. Wright paces the team in yards with 405, while Small leads the team with eight touchdowns. Hooker is third on the team with 315 yards and three scores.
Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt is having a monster season, thanks to his quarterback. Hyatt already has 769 yards receiving and leads the nation with 12 touchdown receptions.
Bru McCoy, a transfer wideout from USC, is second behind Hyatt, adding 24 receptions, 397 yards, and two touchdowns.
The Pick is In
A night game in Knoxville won’t be easy for the opposition, but this one will come down to Kentucky’s defense against UT’s potent offense. Last season it was a shootout, and expect more of the same.
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops has a defensive background and will have a plan ready to slow down this Vols’ offensive attack.
The Pick: Kentucky Wildcats +11.5