The game was closer than the score.
Tennessee had big troubles stopping Kentucky's running attack. Derrick Locke ran well in the middle and around the edge, and Randall Cobb's plays gave the defense all they could handle. To make matters worse, Mike Hartline threw with control, avoiding interceptions until desperation time.
Meanwhile, Tennessee had only one functional part of the offense for the first half - but what a functional part it was. First down? Tyler Bray Bomb. Second down? Bomb. Third down? Bomb. The deep ball was in effect in a way we haven't seen on the Hill in a long, long time. In fact, the deep ball gave Tennessee two scores so quickly that the Vols were only on the field for 8:39 and 20 plays. Meanwhile, Kentucky was trailing at the half but had already run about 50 plays on a defense that looked to be primed for fatigue in the second half.
Credit Bennie Wylie. We loved him during the offseason, but didn't talk about him during the last couple of months. His strength and conditioning program got the defense through a game where they saw 70 plays in the first three quarters and grew stronger, holding Kentucky to only 12 plays in the final and deciding quarter of the game.
Also credit Denarius Moore. The senior had his best game of his career today; absolutely destroying the overmatched Wildcat secondary with long catch after long catch. After the bobbled shoulda-been-TD drop in the opening drive, Moore went into the zone for a 7 reception, 200 yard game and one touchdown.
Credit all the seniors, really. The tears they shed after the game were well-deserved; no team at Tennessee has weathered transition like this class has. They left the program in the best shape they could have managed after two coaching changes, numerous lost players, an acidic fanbase, and many opportunities to hang up the cleats and look for enjoyment in life. They earned the victory that came on the wing of a freshman quarterback and his senior deep receiver.