Tennessee-Kentucky: The Tell-Tale Game

True! - nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?
Well, this is it boys and girls. The whole season, boiled down to one game, against an ancient border rival. It's already the kind of game that must be won anyway just to protect our way of life, which is so obviously superior to theirs: even though UK began playing football before UT, we've brought the game further then they have, Big Orange is far better than Big Blue, and Tennessee whiskey is silky smooth going down compared to that Kentucky bourbon swill.

Add to that the fact that Tennessee is playing for everything here -- namely a shot at the SEC title -- against a team who sees beating Tennessee as everything in itself. Kentucky is bowl eligible already, but don't think that's enough for the Cats. They went to and won a bowl game last year. They've even been to a New Year's Day bowl in the last decade. What they haven't done is beat Tennessee. And this year especially, when anything is possible, this seems like the perfect time for UK to end their 22-year losing streak to the Vols.

I've heard this game coming for a while now, just like the narrator in Poe's story quoted above hears the heart of the old man beating beneath the floorboards. Through all the improbable turns this season has taken, there were two things I wrote at FanHouse during the summer that have haunted the back of my mind. First, of Kentucky (and Vandy):

Even though I don't think either of these teams will win the East title, I think they'll pull one or two upsets that help decide who does.
Now Kentucky might have gotten all of their upset ability out in beating LSU, and if that's true, they won't really have had much to do with who wins the East. They'll just have one really impressive upset win on their bowl resume. But, more frighteningly, I also wrote this:
The SEC East team that goes to Atlanta will be less the "winner" of the division and more the survivor. UT could easily be a 6-2 or even 5-3 team in conference play and still get to the Georgia Dome. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see the Vols start the season 1-2 (losses to Cal and Florida) and then win eight of the last nine to take the division.
O...M...G. That's entirely too prescient. I never really get things like that right, but part has already happened (the East champ will have two losses) and one of the two things written above will happen also. Either Kentucky pulls an upset that determines the SEC East race, or Tennessee starts 1-2 and wins eight of nine to take the division.

You know which one I'm rooting for, but either way I might never make any predictions ever again. The possibility of being right can make you crazy.

Go Vols!

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