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Beating Tennessee: Why This Is The Year

Can’t really blame the guy, I’d want to get out of Tennessee as fast as possible, too.

“This is the year we finally beat Tennessee!”  I know, I know, we say this at the start of nearly every season.  Yet somehow, by the season end, we have come up with a new creative way to lose a game we should have won.  Whether it’s calling a QB option for someone other than Randall Cobb, Lones Seiber’s emo mojo failing to come through, or just a good old fashioned defensive collapse, Kentucky has found a way to lose to the nasty Vols 25 times in a row.

So why is this going to be the year?

1.) Randall Cobb I hated to do two players for separate points, but they both really deserve their own.  Randall Cobb is from Tennessee, in case you hadn’t heard, and has got to want to put one on the Orange more than even most Kentucky fans do.  He was famously snubbed by the Vols up until right before signing day, and decided to come to Kentucky even with them finally paying him attention.  Not to mention that Cobb has been playing out of his mind lately – and if he’s really thinking about going to the NFL next year, this is his last chance for a win, too.

2.) Mike Hartline – For less subjective reasons, Mike Hartline is going to help lead his team to the first win over the Vols in 25 games.  Mike has put in a stellar year – over the summer he has gone from someone you have to defend to your own fans to someone that you will legitimately miss at least 4 times next year.  When the effort is up to him (that is, the play call is past the marker,) Mike has found ways to convert on third downs more often than not, and on quite a few fourths as well.  He has been integral in sparking one of the best offenses Kentucky has seen since the Woodson era.

3.) Bye Week We have one, they don’t.  It’s no secret that Kentucky is clearly a second half team this year, particularly on defense.  I don’t pretend to know what goes into prepping a team to play D, or why it’s seemingly so much easier for Steve Brown after watching his players miss tackles for a half, but the bye week can only help things. It’s not like Tennessee has anyone too tough on Saturday (they play Vandy,) but getting another week of game tape and reps against the scout team has to help the Cats be ready.

4.) Tennessee – The trials and tribulations of the team from Tennessee are known.  Not only are they in their second transition year, Lane Kiffin pretty much left the cubbard bare.  On top of that, new coach Derek Dooley did not get off to the hottest start in his first year, and the Vols sit at 4-6. They simply haven’t been that good.  Note haven’t, though, because Tennessee definitely just whalloped Memphis and Ole Mis by 36 and 38 respectively.  I don’t know that they have finally gotten things together, but let’s assume those were just flukes.

5.) Close Games – Tennesse has only played in one close game so far this season (UAB.)  Conversely, Kentucky has only played one game that wasn’t (Florida.)  UT has either been waxed or done the waxing, and because of that their players lack the experience it takes to preform under pressure.  Make no mistake, at worst Kentucky will keep the game close, and in the end that should work to our advantage.

6.) Streaks – Everything has to come to an end.  It’s how life works.  I mean seriously, 25?  That’s just silly.  Joker is 3-1 on streaks this year, ending Spurriers and continuing the Louisville and Bowl Eligibilities, only failing to end the streak to Florida.  With a new coach starts a new era, and just as Joker is undefeated against Spurrier, he’s going to be undefeated against Tennessee going into the next season.

And let’s just ignore the fact that Tennessee will be playing for a bowl game in their home stadium.

Prediction:  Kentucky 38 – Tennessee 31

Article written by Will Lentz