Kentucky Finally Wins In Knoxville
Two years ago Mark Stoops’ Wildcats went into Florida and beat the Gators 27-16. In the process they broke the longest active losing streak against one team in NCAA football at 31. However, even with that win there was still one big thing to cross off the list, winning at Tennessee. Not since 1984 when Ronald Reagan was President had the Cats won in Knoxville. That is until Saturday. Behind another huge day from the defense Kentucky blasts 18th ranked Tennessee 34-7 ending a 17 game losing streak.
Doing It With Defense
A week ago in defeating Mississippi State 24-2 the Cats picked off six passes and held a Mike Leach coached team without an offensive point for the first time ever. However the biggest question heading into Saturday was how they would fare against Jarrett Guarantano, a player who always has big games against the Cats.
This time it was a totally different story as the defense once again dominated. Following a scoreless first quarter Kelvin Joseph intercepted Guarantano and took it 41 yards to the house. One the next drive Jamin Davis picked off a pass and went 85 yards for a touchdown. The following possession Tyrell Ajian picked off JT Shrout who replaced Guarantano.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 17, 2020
Over the last two games the Kentucky defense has allowed only nine points and has nine interceptions. Technically two of those points came on a safety where punter Max Duffy kicked an errant snap out of the end zone. How good has Brad White’s defense been the last two weeks? The numbers don’t lie.
This is the fewest combined points allowed by Kentucky against consecutive SEC opponents in consecutive weeks (9) since November 13th and 20th, 1976 vs. Florida and at Tennessee (9)
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) October 17, 2020
Controlling The Game On Offense
After taking a 17-0 lead the Tennessee offense drove right down the field 75 yards for a touchdown cutting the lead to 10 at the half. Every UK fan had the same thought, “here we go again.” While the Cats have had tendencies to blow big leads it wasn’t happening Saturday.
Kentucky’s first three possessions of the second half ended with two touchdowns and a field goal. The first was a pass from Terry Wilson to Allen Dailey Jr. and the other a Christopher Rodriguez two yard run. On the other side of the ball the defense forced three punts and turned Tennessee over on downs. From there UK ran out the last seven minutes of the game and secured the win.
For the game Kentucky ran for 187 yards and threw for 107 more in what was a better effort than against Mississippi State. In addition if you read our game preview we said turnovers would be a key. The Cats forced four while only giving the ball up once. They also held the ball for nearly 34 minutes. Put that all together and it’s easy to see how Kentucky blasts Tennessee 34-7.
A History Making Day
Not only did Kentucky break a 17 game losing streak in Knoxville but there were some individual accomplishments as well. With Saturday’s win Terry Wilson becomes the first Wildcat quarterback since Bill Ransdell to beat both Florida and Tennessee. “Dollar Bill” was under center when Kentucky last won in Knoxville in 1984 and beat the Gators in 1986. In addition Wilson is the first UK signal caller to defeat Florida, Louisville and Tennessee.
After the big victory Stoops becomes the first coach since Jerry Claiborne to notch wins over the Gators and Vols. Furthermore he ties Fran Curci for second on the school’s all-time win list with 46. He needs 14 wins to tie Bear Bryant for the top spot at Kentucky.
The Cats look to ride the momentum into Missouri next week when they face the Tigers. Originally UK was supposed to host Georgia next Saturday night and play Missouri on October 31st. However due to COVID-19 issues the SEC adjusted the schedule for several teams. As a result the Cats now travel to Columbia next week and host the Bulldogs on Halloween. The Tigers’ game with Vanderbilt was one of two canceled this week due to the virus, the other being Florida and LSU. Kentucky is looking for a sixth straight win against Missouri.
For Tennessee the schedule doesn’t get any easier next week. On Saturday they welcome Alabama for their annual clash. The Vols have lost 13 in a row to the Crimson Tide with their last win coming in 2006.
The Big Blue Nation has reason to celebrate this weekend as Kentucky blasts Tennessee 34-7 to end a 17 game road losing streak in Knoxville. How will the win affect Kentucky’s bowl destination? We’ll have that for you later this week as well as a preview of the Missouri game here at Last Word On College Football.