KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. EST
SITE: Commonwealth Stadium Lexington, Ky.
TV: SEC Network
RECORDS: Tennessee 5-6, 1-6 SEC; Kentucky 4-7, 1-6 SEC
KEYS TO THE GAME:
For the Volunteers it will be essential that they come out with energy. For Kentucky, this is one of the biggest games of their season. While it might not seem like much of a rivalry to anyone on the outside, it definitely is for the Cats. They will be gunning for Tennessee. Derek Dooley’s Vols will definitely have to weather the storm early and settle in.
For Kentucky it is essential that they simply believe. Things are going to get tough for the Cats without a doubt. Tennessee is a good football team and they are going to score points and make plays. When that happens it will be crucial for the Wildcats to stay poised. They can’t accept defeat until the clock strikes zero. If they stay focused and believe it is possible they have a chance.
— With a win the Volunteers will have topped the Kentucky Wildcats for a 27th straight year, the longest active streak in the NCAA.
— A win from the Volunteers would make them bowl eligible sending them to their 50th bowl in school history, second only to Alabama (58).
— A win in Lexington would give Derek Dooley’s team their first road win of the 2011 season.
— Saturday will be senior day in Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky will honor 21 seniors and two juniors who will forgo their senior seasons.
— Kentucky is coming off a hard-fought, 19-10 loss to the No. 13 ranked Georgia Bulldogs who have already claimed the eastern division SEC title.
— Seniors Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy are the SEC’s top two tacklers.
Tyler Bray — 132-209, 1768 yds., 16 TD/4 INT
Tauren Poole — 178 att., 661 yds., 5 TD
Da’Rick Rogers — 65 catches, 1002 yds., 9 TD
Morgan Newton — 82-172, 784 yds., 8 TD/7 INT
CoShik Williams — 89 att., 407 yds., 2 TD
La’Rod King — 39 catches, 596 yds., 7 TD
WHAT A WIN MEANS:
For Tennessee a win is crucial. Derek Dooley is coaching a team that is littered with youngsters and they could use 15 more practices in preparation for a bowl game. In addition, it would be nice if a few top-flight recruits could catch a glimpse of Dooley’s squad as his staff attempts to close with a great 2012 recruiting class.
For Kentucky, a win would negate everything else that has happened during an otherwise terrible 2011 season. They are going to miss the post season regardless of this week’s outcome, but this game is their Super Bowl. A win over the Vols would end the longest draught in college football. They need a win in Knoxville to leave a good taste in their mouth.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Tyler Bray (sophomore, quarterback)
For Tyler Bray it will be essential to take what the defense gives him. The Kentucky defense has the ability to make plays, so for Bray he will have to be patient and selective trying to make his. He doesn’t have to beat the Wildcats all by himself.
Joker Phillips team has shown very little on the offensive side of the ball and the Volunteers have created loads of turnovers in the last few weeks. Bray will just need to settle in and let the points come to him.
Tauren Poole (senior, running back)
If Tennessee is able to flex their muscle early Saturday could be a big day for Poole. He needs to protect the football, grind and move the chains for Jim Chaney’s defense.
Poole will once again run from the pistol formations, which enabled his success against Vanderbilt. If he can build on his performance last week it would go a long way for the Vols offense.
Tennessee offensive line
Derek Dooley saw a major improvement in the running game against Vanderbilt in week 11, but he praised the offensive line for coming off the ball on another level. The big boys up front need a repeat performance.
If Tennessee can put together some long drives on the ground it could be a beautiful day for the Vols in Lexington and obviously Dooley feels the offensive line is a big part of that success.
Big Blue Nation
I wish I could say that there is one specific person, player or coach that is key in the game this Saturday, but really it is everyone associated with the whole program. Lets face it 26 years is a long time, heck I wasn’t even born and neither were any of the Kentucky players.
The Wildcats don’t even know what is feels like to beat the Volunteers nor do most of their fans, but that doesn’t matter. This is one game. Everyone in Commonwealth Stadium has to believe it is possible, even if they fall behind, even when a call doesn’t go their way and even when they have a chance to make plays.
Believing that it can be done is their first key to success. If you don’t have that it will never happen. BELIEVE KENTUCKY. BELIEVE.