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at Kentucky 10 … Tennessee 7

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 26, 2011


Week 13 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Tennessee at Kentucky

2011 Prediction & Game Story

Week 13 - Tennessee at Kentucky

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Nov. 26 at Kentucky 10 … Tennessee 7
CFN Analysis: The offense still didn’t work, but it didn’t matter considering the performance from the defense. The D had to come up with something special considering the passing game wasn’t going anywhere, and it did. … Wide receiver Matt Roark ended up being used at quarterback, and while he only completed 4-of-6 passes for 15 yards, he ran for 124 yards and helped the Wildcats keep the ball for 36 minutes. … Winston Guy was special making 14 tackles with a half a sack, while Danny Trevathan made eight tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss and two broken up passes. … This was a bad team that managed to finish with five wins and screw up Tennessee’s season. For all the problems, this was a great way to end the season for a young team that spent the year cutting its teeth.

It was a bad year with injuries and a nasty schedule, but there was hope for a nice finishing kick to right the ship to in time to get to a bowl game. This was an utter disaster with the season ending so abruptly. Tennessee never, ever loses to Kentucky. Tennessee just lost to Kentucky. … Tyler Bray still looked rusty. He wasn’t able to regain his form after coming back from his thumb injury over the last few weeks, completing 15-of-30 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown with two picks. … No, Derek Dooley shouldn’t be on a hot seat – yet. He was thrown into bad circumstances and he’s still trying to build things up. However, the offense scored seven points or fewer in five of its final seven games. That’s not exactly a plus.

(AP) LEXINGTON, Ky. -- CoShik Williams ran for a touchdown and senior wide receiver Matt Roark filled in at quarterback with 124 yards on 24 carries as Kentucky snapped a 26-game losing streak to Tennessee with a 10-7 victory on Saturday.

The win capped a disappointing season for the Wildcats (5-7, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) and kept Tennessee (5-7, 1-7) from reaching bowl eligibility with representatives from the Liberty Bowl on hand.

Kentucky's game plan was clear from the start to win for the first time in the series since 1984.

The Wildcats weren't going to be able to throw much with Roark, but instead tried to run misdirection plays and catch Tennessee off-guard while relying on their improving defense.

It worked.

Roark led two scoring drives and Kentucky forced three turnovers, including a key one in a goal-line stand in the third quarter.

Roark had talked earlier in the week about needing to find a job after he graduated in May, but he left a strong impression in his final appearance at Commonwealth Stadium with injured quarterbacks Maxwell Smith (right shoulder) and Morgan Newton (right ankle, right shoulder) watching from the sideline.

Kentucky wore its black jerseys for the second time this season at the request of its 21 seniors and, on the first possession, Roark led Kentucky on a 15-play drive that lasted nearly eight minutes before it stalled at the Tennessee 7 and forced Craig McIntosh's 24-yard field goal. That would stay the only score until the fourth quarter, when Williams scored from the 6 to give Kentucky a 10-0 lead.

Tennessee had plenty of chances late, but committed three turnovers in the second half.

First, Ronnie Sneed intercepted Tyler Bray's pass at the Tennessee 34. But, with Kentucky seemingly stalled, it appeared to be only a matter of time before Tennessee's offense engaged. It happened when Bray found Rajion Neal behind cornerback Randall Burden for a 44-yard gain that set up first-and-goal on the 8.

But Neal failed to handle the snap out of a wildcat formation two plays later, and Collins Ukwu recovered the fumble for Kentucky before Roark restarted the offense.

First, he got linebacker A.J. Johnson to turn his back for a 24-yard gain into Tennessee territory. Roark made another key play a few minutes later, splitting the defense and breaking two tackles on a third-and-12 to gain 26 yards down to the Tennessee 7. Williams, who finished with 68 yards, scored two plays later on a 6-yard run that made it 10-0 with 14:12 left.

Tennessee struck right back when Bray found Neal on the post again against Burden for a 53-yard score that cut it to 10-7 with 12:52 left. Tennessee had three chances late, but Bray failed to move the offense beyond one first down and on fourth-and-17. Taiedo Smith intercepted Bray's pass to seal it.

Roark finished 4 of 6 for 15 yards passing.

Volunteers wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers caught two passes for 38 yards to boost his SEC-leading totals to 67 receptions for 1,040 yards, but Bray looked rusty in his second game back after missing five with a broken right thumb. He finished 15 of 38 for 215 yards.

The Vols last lost on the road to Kentucky in 1981 and, coupled with their 6-7 finish last year, have ended seasons with consecutive losing records for the first time since 1910-11.

They'll have a long offseason to think about this one by failing to topple a Wildcats team that had been in turmoil all week with rumors that coach Joker Phillips might not return for a third season.

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart said on the school's pregame show that nothing changed from when he publicly supported Phillips in October.

Phillips is 11-14 and 4-12 in SEC play over his first two seasons while the program won't go to a bowl for the first time in five years. Instead, the coach got a victory bath from a sideline water cooler all the same and fans rushed the field.

Tennessee (5-6) at Kentucky (4-7) Nov. 26, 12:21, SEC Network/ESPN3

Here’s The Deal … Tennessee is starting to make a habit out of making a late season charge to a bowl game. In 2008 the Vols closed out with wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky, but it was too late. In 2009 the wins over the two led to a bowl bid, and last year they needed to beat the Wildcats to close out a four-game winning streak to get a 13th game. It’s the same deal this year with a thrilling and controversial overtime win over Vanderbilt to make this game matter. Win, and Tennessee will take another post-season trip.

Kentucky is looking for something positive to build on for next year, and while this season has been a disaster, there’s young talent to build around and several good players who have spent the year taking their lumps. The Cats gave Georgia a battle last week before losing their sixth conference game, and while beating Tennessee wouldn’t make up for all the other problems, 5-7 and out of the SEC East basement wouldn’t be a bad way to finish up. It would be especially sweet to end a 26-game losing streak in the series with the last win UK win coming in 1984.
Neither team has an offense, neither one has a running game, and both teams are struggling way too much on defense. Other than that, they’re fine. They’re at the same level, and it should be a close and entertaining game.

Why Tennessee Might Win: Tennessee’s offense is bad, but Kentucky’s offense is worse. Last in the SEC in scoring, passing, and passing efficiency, it all starts from a line that’s last in the conference in sacks allowed. The UK line hasn’t even been close, allowing 4.5 sacks last week against Georgia and four to Vanderbilt over the last two weeks. Tennessee isn’t great at getting behind the line, but it was able to come up with two sacks and eight tackles for loss against Vanderbilt and it’s been doing a good job against bad running reams. UK doesn’t get enough of a push to have a steady ground game and it doesn’t have the passing attack to pick up the slack. The offense has failed to score more than 17 points in every FBS game but two – Central Michigan and Ole Miss. UT can put it away with three scores. However …

Why Kentucky Might Win: It’s not like the Tennessee attack is a juggernaut. Even with Tyler Bray coming back, the offense didn’t really work against Vanderbilt with just 290 yards of total offense and too many struggles to score. In a game like this between two struggling attacks, field position could make all the difference and UK has a huge advantage in the punting game. Ryan Tydlacka continues to be terrific, leading a punting game that’s 14th in the nation and averaging over 39 yards per boot, while Tennessee is struggling with the SEC’s worst punting game averaging just 34 yards per kick. Kentucky needs the field tilted to the Vols’ side, and it needs to capitalize on every chance. Again, points will be at a premium, and any breaks will be welcomed.

What To Watch Out For: Back from an injured thumb, Tyler Bray was trying to find the groove he got into at the beginning of the year when the offense was working and the passing game was flying around. He wasn’t sharp, completing just 16-of-33 passes for 189 yards and two scores with two picks, but he came away with the win. Under pressure on a regular basis, he had a hard time getting the offense consistently moving and he wasn’t accurate. Last year, Bray came up with 354 yards and two scores in the win, but one of the things UK is good at is pass efficiency defense, ranking 39th in the nation, and it isn’t likely to allow too many deep shots.

Who’s the most disrespected player in college football? It could be Kentucky linebacker Danny Travathan, who made 144 tackles with 16 tackles for loss and three sacks, but wasn’t in the mix for the Butkus Award. This year he already has 135 stops with 13 tackles for loss and three sacks, to go along with five forced fumbles, but he still isn’t in the mix for the Butkus. He’s coming off one of the best games of his great career, making 17 tackles with three tackles for loss, a sack, and two forced fumbles against Georgia with 14 tackles, he’ll finish his great career with 380 stops.

What Will Happen: You don’t mess with a streak. Tennessee doesn’t lose to Kentucky, and the combination of Bray and running back Tauren Poole will be enough to put up the three touchdowns needed to put the game away. Kentucky’s offense will sputter and struggle once again.

CFN Prediction: Tennessee 31 … Kentucky 16
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Tennessee -7.5   O/U: 43.5

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