Tennessee will make its second straight road trip this Saturday night when the Vols travel to Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats from Kroger Field.
Morale isn’t exactly high on Rocky Top after the Vols’ 45-7 blowout loss to No. 1 Alabama. The orange and white have lost three games in a row and haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in over a month.
Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, Butch Jones isn’t the most popular coach in the country right now.
But, Jones has lived to coach another week and the Vols will attempt to get back on track this season and capture their sixth consecutive win over the Wildcats. Let’s take a look at this contest by the numbers.
1 – The number of times that Kentucky has defeated Tennessee since 1984. The Vols have won 32 of the last 33 meetings in this series with the lone exception coming on Derek Dooley’s infamous 10-7 loss in Lexington in 2011, when the Wildcats started wide receiver Matt Roark at quarterback. The all-time series is overwhelmingly in Tennessee’s favor, with UT leading 79-24-9 since the first meeting in 1893.
5.5 – The amount of points Kentucky is favored by as of Tuesday. It is historically rare for the Wildcats to be favored over the Vols, this being the first occurrence since Tennessee traveled to Lexington in 2007, a wild game which the Vols won 52-50 in four overtimes.
7 – The amount of points that both teams scored in their respective games last week, both 45-7 losses. Mississippi State pulled away from Kentucky in the fourth quarter of that game and Tennessee was never really in its game against Alabama despite a commendable defensive effort in the first half.
12 – The number of tackles that Tennessee true freshman cornerback Shawn Shamburger had in his first career start last week against Alabama. Shamburger’s play was impressive, and marked one of the few bright spots in an abysmal day for the Vols. He led the team in tackles and added a sack against the Tide, and he’ll be one of the key players to watch on the Tennessee defense this Saturday.
14 – The number of quarters it has been since Tennessee’s offense last scored a touchdown — a Quinten Dormady pass to Tyler Byrd in the back of the end zone with 25 seconds remaining in the first half against UMass. We’ll see if the Vols can end their futile streak against a Kentucky defense that just gave up five touchdowns to Mississippi State’s offense.
19 – The number of years since these teams last competed for the trophy that used to be awarded to the winner of this annual rivalry: the Beer Barrel. The trophy was officially discontinued before the 1999 season after two Kentucky football players were killed in an alcohol-related car crash one week prior to the 1998 meeting between these teams.
44.5 – The number of points that Tennessee has averaged against Kentucky in four meetings in the Butch Jones era. The Vols have had no problems moving the ball against the Wildcats under Jones, with the team scoring at least 49 points in the previous three meetings. However, Josh Dobbs was the starting quarterback for all of these matchups. With Jarrett Guarantano now at the helm, it’ll be interesting to see if the offense can move the ball as well against the ‘Cats.
88.5 – Guarantano’s average passing yards in the first two starts of his career. The redshirt freshman threw for 133 yards against South Carolina, but the Alabama defense held him to just 44 yards through the air. Guarantano told reporters that the Tennessee offense is “ready to explode,” so he better be ready to back up that claim.
126 – The current position out of 130 FBS teams where Tennessee ranks in total offense this season. Going hand-in-hand with the Vols’ touchdown drought, Tennessee is last among Power 5 teams in total offense, last in the SEC in points-per-game, No. 13 in the SEC in passing yards and No. 11in the SEC in rushing yards despite having one of the top rushers in the league in John Kelly. Tennessee might finally have some success moving the ball against a Kentucky defense that ranks No. 70 in the country.
541 – The number of rushing yards that Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. has through seven games. Snell is one of the key weapons on the Wildcats’ offense, and will look to run wild on a Tennessee rushing defense that’s been a liability. Snell rushed for 79 of UK’s 443 rushing yards last year against the Vols and certainly will be looking to surpass that total.