Tennessee Looks To Make It Three Wins in a Row Against the Kentucky Wildcats
When Tennessee and Kentucky get together, the Volunteers and Wildcats are as close to last place in the SEC East Division as they are to first place. The loser of this game will fall under .500 in SEC play and keep that in mind when looking at the Tennessee vs Kentucky odds.
Tennessee has won nine of the last 11 games against Kentucky and rolled to a 38-point win in the 2022 matchup. The Volunteers have won four of the previous five games in the series played in Lexington.
The college football betting lines list the visiting Volunteers as 3.5-point favorites.
Tennessee continues to play without receiver Bru McCoy (six catches in last year’s win against Kentucky), while offensive lineman Andrej Karic is questionable.
For Kentucky, defensive back Jalen Geiger and linebacker Trevin Wallace are questionable. Wallace would be the more significant loss if he can’t go, considering that he has 31 tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and an interception.
Tennessee was tied for fourth at +1400 in the odds to win the EC title coming into the season, with Kentucky well back at +10000. Barring a loss by top-ranked Georgia, the loser of this game would be three games out of first place in the SEC East with three conference games remaining.
Taking a look at the NCAAF rankings, Tennessee dropped four spots to No. 21 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and went from 15th to 20th in the American Football Coaches Association poll. Kentucky is receiving votes in the coaches’ poll.
Location: Kroger Field, Lexington, KY
Line: Tennessee -180; Kentucky +155
Volunteers Offense Headed In Wrong Direction
Tennessee led all Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense a season ago. The Volunteers have fallen to No. 35 so far this season, with yards per game dropping by 87. Tennessee led all SEC teams with 40 plays from scrimmage of at least 30 yards in 2022. They are tied for ninth in that category in 2023 with 10 plays of at least 40 yards. Just four of those plays have taken place in conference games.
An issue for the Volunteers is that they are outside the top 50 in points scored in the second and third quarters. When looking at some recent college football scores, they were outscored 20-0 in a loss to Florida and 17-0 in last week’s defeat to Alabama. Keep that in mind when looking at the Tennessee vs Kentucky odds.
The total has gone under in six of Tennessee’s last nine games.
Methodical Approach Is Not Working
Kentucky has run the fewest plays in the SEC, and that has led to the Wildcats being outscored 89-34 during a two-game losing streak.
In the loss to Georgia, the defense was on the field for nearly 37.5 minutes, and that is a recipe for failure.
Kentucky ran just 108 plays in the losses to Georgia and Missouri, which has put a ton of pressure on a defense ranked eighth in the SEC with 346.6 yards allowed per game.
It hasn’t helped that Kentucky has had the fewest number of drives reach the red zone among SEC teams. That could factor into the Tennessee vs Kentucky odds.
Kentucky has covered in just one of the last eight home games versus Tennessee.
Tennessee only led 7-6 after one quarter at home as the 10.5-point favorite in the 2022 matchup before outscoring the Wildcats 30-0 in the second and third quarters to cover with ease.
The game fell well under the 63-point total, even though it was the sixth time in the last nine matchups that at least 50 points were scored when Tennessee and Kentucky got together.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak by visiting teams in the series.
Tennessee vs Kentucky Betting Preview
Four of the last five games between Tennessee and Kentucky finished under the total. After having a total set at 63 in the 2022 meeting, it has dropped to 51.5 for this matchup.
Tennessee leads all SEC teams with a 14-6 record against the college football betting lines since the start of the 2022 NCAAF season. The Volunteers have covered in three of the five games as the road favorite during that stretch, with Kentucky going 2-0 against the spread as the home underdog.
It could argued that this is a NCAAF matchup of the two most disappointing quarterbacks in the SEC this season.
While there was expected to be some dropoff after losing quarterback Hendon Hooker and star receivers Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman to the NFL, there wasn’t expected to be that much of regression.
It will be interesting to watch how Tennessee, which is tied for second in the SEC in sacks, fared against a Kentucky offensive line that has allowed the second-fewest sacks in the conference.
Look for Tennessee to bounce back after its second-half meltdown and beat Kentucky for the third time in a row.