Three times in the last 37 tries — that’s how many wins Kentucky has over Tennessee over nearly the last four decades. There are two things you must do at Tennessee without question. You better beat Vanderbilt and you better beat Kentucky. Each of Tennessee’s last three coaches didn’t do that, and they were each shown the door.
Josh Heupel now gets his first chance in this series on Saturday night. However, these aren’t the same old Wildcats. Mark Stoops has stabilized the program in Lexington, turning Kentucky into a third-place SEC East contender over the last several years. In a lot of ways, Stoops has capitalized on the failures of Tennessee over the last decade. His Wildcats have even won a handful of recruiting battles over the Volunteers recently.
But make no mistake, the attitude towards this game remains the same for Tennessee. Alontae Taylor made it very clear on Tuesday with a simple statement — “You don’t lose to Kentucky.”
"You don't lose to Kentucky."— Karthik Venkataraman (@KarthikV_) November 2, 2021
Vols CB Alontae Taylor spoke today on the importance of this Saturday's game and what the team is hoping to prove coming off their bye week. pic.twitter.com/eAqks8SPF2
Players on this team are ready to put last year’s embarrassing blowout loss to Kentucky behind them. Multiple interceptions from Jarrett Guarantano doomed that day early on, as the Wildcats picked up their first win inside of Neyland Stadium since 1984. The final score read 34-7, which should provide this program with every ounce of motivation needed.
Kentucky is coming off of a road loss to Mississippi State, and Tennessee is coming off of a much-needed bye. Both sides should have plenty of motivation here.
For what it’s worth, the spread has gone from Tennessee +3 all the way down to even in some spots, so there’s plenty of support for the Vols in the gambling markets.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 in Lexington.