|College Football Preview and Pick - Tennessee Volunteers at Kentucky Wildcats (Saturday 7 ET)
By Matt Fargo
Kentucky is coming off a win last weekend against Georgia in a game it had no business winning. The Wildcats were outgained by 227 total yards but were fortunate that the Bulldogs gave it up four times in the second half and that has been the problem for them all season and Kentucky was able to take advantage.
The Wildcats improved to 7-4 with that victory but I am not sold on them when playing a good team like Tennessee. Five of their wins have come against teams that are not going to the postseason including one FCS team.
A team that is three games over .500 on the season should not have a negative yardage differential, but that is the case for Kentucky as it is -13.4 ypg on the year and that may seem insignificant but that is not a good sign for a supposed bowl team.
Tennessee has had its ups and downs this season but it will avoid a second straight losing season and missed bowl game. This team could be peaking at the right time led by a surging quarterback and another solid defense.
Take away that game against Mississippi, which was actually close late in the third quarter before a 21-0 Rebels run ended it, and the other games have been close as three of other losses were by a total of 10 points as well as a 10-point loss to top ranked Florida.
A few breaks the other way and the Volunteers could be looking at a big bowl game although a win here likely puts Tennessee in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.
Kentucky has accomplished two big things this season and that is winning at Auburn for the first time since 1961 and at Georgia for the first time since 1977. Now they will be trying to beat Tennessee for the first time since 1984 and I am saying that the third time is not a charm.
In the games against Auburn and Georgia, the Wildcats had the luxury of going against scoring defenses ranked 78th and 76th while Tennessee is ranked 28th. The Volunteers are allowing only 20.7 ppg and 313.2 ypg which is raked 20th in the nation.
The Wildcats are only 87th in total offense and even though the running game is solid, there is no balance and that is what it takes to beat Tennessee.
The Volunteers have been led by quarterback Jonathan Crompton who started extremely slow but has picked it up of late. Through the first three games he had five touchdowns and seven interceptions, but since then he has tossed 20 touchdowns and only four picks which is definitely one of the best turnarounds in the nation.
Tennessee is 11th in the country in sacks allowed while Kentucky is 98th in sacks gained so Crompton will not be seeing much pressure. The offense has scored 31 or more points in five of the last eight games with Tennessee winning all of those contests.
Kentucky is an average 54th in total defense and it is 0-4 this season in games that it has allowed 28 or more points so that is obviously the magic number for us here.
Tennessee is 15-4 ATS in its last 19 games as a road favorite smaller than a touchdown while Kentucky is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven games as a home underdog of a field goal or less.
The road team has covered four of the last five meetings and Tennessee is 9-4 ATS in the last 13 in the series.
Pick: Tennessee -3 (+105) at 5Dimes.com.
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