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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Tennessee senior receiver Jauan Jennings greets fans during the Vol Walk at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 5.

TENNESSEE (4-5, 2-3 SEC) at KENTUCKY (4-4, 2-4)

7:30 p.m. at Kroger Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky

 

VIDEO & RADIO

SEC Network & 106.5 FM

 

THE MATCHUP

Over the past four games, Tennessee's defense has allowed averages of 18.3 points, 100.5 rushing yards, 3.2 yards per rush and 318.5 yards of total offense against three Southeastern Conference opponents and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which has won six games this season. Kentucky's worst rushing total this season is 115 yards against South Carolina, and the Wildcats — led by receiver-turned-quarterback Lynn Bowden — have rushed for more than 200 yards three times this season and at least 150 on six occasions. Bowden has thrown for only 149 yards since becoming the primary option behind center, and trying to make him become a passer will be the challenge for the Volunteers.

 

ONES TO WATCH

Speaking of quarterback questions, what about Tennessee? All three scholarship QBs practiced this week — much like they did last week, when redshirt freshman J.T. Shrout and redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano wound up handling the duties against UAB. Brian Maurer, the freshman who has been limited by concussions since taking over as the starter, remains an option and the Vols have also used senior receiver Jauan Jennings extensively in a wildcat formation. Each of the aforementioned has been the starting quarterback for a Tennessee win this season. Which one will the coaching staff turn to this time?

 

IN THE END

Tennessee and Kentucky have been similar this season in that each has relied on its defense to overshadow instability at quarterback. Tennessee has had more success at the position, even in recent weeks when four different players have been used behind center. The Vols are 3-1 over their past four games, their best such stretch this late in the season since 2016, and it appears the program could be in the process of turning a corner. Needing to win two of its remaining three games to ensure bowl eligibility, Tennessee gets this one and an open date to rest before the next chance at Missouri on Nov. 23.

 

PREDICTION

Tennessee 23, Kentucky 14

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.

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