Kentucky vs. Tennessee Prediction: Picks, betting odds, analysis, more

 Billy Jones   in Football

After a disappointing loss at Mississippi State, the 18th ranked Kentucky Wildcats are set to host rivals Tennessee. Tennessee will come off a bye week as Josh Heupel’s high-tempo offense will go into Lexington on Saturday night.

On Saturday, a win over Tennessee would give Kentucky its first consecutive wins in the series since the 1976 and 1977 seasons.

When Tennessee has the ball

The match-up between Kentucky’s defense and Tennessee’s offense will be strength on strength.

The Volunteer offense has put up almost 40 points per game, while Kentucky’s defense is giving up under 20. 

The Kentucky defense will see a very different offense than it saw last weekend in Starkville. Josh Heupel loves to run the ball and loves to go fast, which is typically not what Leach likes to do; however, he ran the ball more last week than he had in any previous game at Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs' ability to run the ball should concern Kentucky as Tennessee's offense has run for 249 yards per game this season with their high-octane option attack.

Hendon Hooker’s running ability as Tennessee’s quarterback will put a lot of pressure on a Kentucky defense that in Stoops’s mind, “just didn’t play that well.''

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Kentucky’s defense brings an exciting challenge to Tennessee’s offense because they love to mix and match defensive fronts. 

This variation in front technique will make things very difficult for a Tennessee offensive line that has struggled to protect the quarterback in passing situations. If Kentucky can slow down the run game and force Tennessee into obvious passing situations, they could make things very difficult for the Volunteers.

Josh Heupel emphasized that “double teams would be critical” to block the Kentucky front. If they can do that consistently, they could have a very successful day against Kentucky.

Stoops’s defense will face a very different challenge than last week but one that could also give them a lot of trouble.

When Kentucky has the ball

Kentucky’s offense against Tennessee’s defense may be the more exciting battle to watch on Saturday. The Wildcats look to respond after a disappointing performance on Saturday where they turned the ball over 4 times.

Tennessee’s defense showed an ability to slow down Alabama for much of the game but started to let things slip in the fourth quarter as Alabama scored 4 straight touchdowns to end the game.

Kentucky’s success on offense this year has devolved from an NFL run game and strong play from the quarterback Will Levis. These two elements have been lacking over the past two weeks as they have been unable to run the football, and Will Levis has looked very uncomfortable. 

Kentucky will need to get their running game going to give their defense time to rest, which they didn't last week.

Josh Heupel seemed most concerned with Kentucky’s passing game as he stressed the importance of finding their talented wide receivers in coverage.

He emphasized the need to find Josh Ali and Wan’Dale Robinson on the line of scrimmage as he feels slowing down the two receivers will give the Volunteers a massive advantage.

Saturday will be a massive opportunity for both teams: one can prove that they are ready to compete with anyone in the SEC(besides two teams who will remain nameless) and one that wants to prove that they should still be in contention for a New Year's Six Bowl.

Kentucky vs. Tennessee Prediction

Nick Cole and Christopher Smith share their Tennessee vs. Kentucky prediction and betting picks for Week 10 of the 2021 college football season.