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RTT Staff Picks: Kentucky

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With the East title back in play, the RTT staff thinks the Vols get it done against Kentucky.

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After three one-score games as double-digit favorites, our staff could be forgiven for their universal skepticism that Tennessee would come out and dominate against an overmatched FCS foe. But that's exactly what Tennessee did, cruising to a 55-0 victory over Tennessee Tech last weekend. Closest to the Pin goes to Will, whose 48-10 predication was 17 points off the final margin and just three off the total. This week, Tennessee welcomes the Kentucky Wildcats, who are looking to secure bowl eligibility for the first time since 2010 and avenge two straight blowout losses at the hands of the Vols. Will Tennessee stop them? To the picks!

Incipient (7-2 straight up, 5-4 against the spread): Honestly, I'm still not totally sure where Tennessee's head is right now, but seeing a team known for sluggish starts not waste any time in dispatching an overmatched foe is at least somewhat encouraging. I'm also not sure where their opponents' heads are--Kentucky just saw their surprising SEC East aspirations go up in smoke, and now they're being asked to respond against a team that's beaten them by 30+ points two years in a row. Tennessee's defense is still banged-up, and their offense is still inconsistent at best, but it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see the 'Cats lay an egg in this one. Tennessee 38 Kentucky 14

Will (6-3 straight up, 5-4 against the spread): There's a chance we come out of this feeling really good about this offense if it hums without Jalen Hurd in a fourth straight beat down of Kentucky. The Wildcats are improved defensively, but statistically are significantly worse than any FBS team the Vols have played this year. But I think there are still enough questions on the offensive line and still enough improvement from UK for something more dramatic. Tennessee 27 Kentucky 20

Joel (7-2 straight up, 4-5 against the spread): Tennessee 35 Kentucky 23

Chris (5-4 straight up, 3-6 against the spread): I don't trust Tennessee enough to win big, not this year and not in a functional rivalry game for their opponent. I'd prefer to pick whatever game result is more likely to produce a huge 4-4 logjam because that's the result the SEC East deserves this year, but since I'd have to look that up and let's be honest that won't happen, I'll go with Tennessee 27 Kentucky 17

Hunter (6-3 straight up, 2-7 against the spread): I can't pick against the spread with this Tennessee team-- when they zig, I zag, and vice versa. So let's take a page from Seinfeld and go full Opposite George. The Vols should be able to cover this line on talent alone, but Opposite George tells me to take the points. Tennessee 31 Kentucky 29

Volundore (7-2 straight up, 3-6 against the spread): In a comment after the South Carolina debacle, I_S pointed out that UT's aggregate line to that point in the season was somewhere in the vicinity of +70 while the Vols' actual scoring margin was +1. That...doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that the Vols will cover another outsized line. But they'll probably win the game? The last few weeks have taught me not to put too much faith in what I think/feel/know will/should happen. Tennessee 31 Kentucky 20

Justin (7-2 straight up, 2-7 against the spread): Other than the noon kickoff time there are not many things about this matchup that should worry the Big Orange faithful. The supposedly resurgent Cats cannot claim any significant wins this season, other than they were kinda sorta in the SEC East race for about a minute. Besides likely becoming bowl eligible (after an Austin Peay victory) Kentucky is going to receive road beatdowns courtesy of Louisville and the Vols. Tennessee gets out front early and never looks back. Tennessee 38 Kentucky 20

Trey (6-3 straight up, 3-6 against the spread): At first glance this line seems a little high, but Kentucky this year has struggled mightily against the better half of their schedule. A noon game between two teams playing for less than they expected will temper it, but the Tennessee offense should have this in hand pretty easily. Tennessee 31 Kentucky 17

Rocky Top Talk Staff Average (7-2 straight up, 3-6 against the spread): Tennessee 32 Kentucky 20

Vegas: Tennessee -14. Over/under 60. Tennessee 37 Kentucky 23