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- Finally, place a $5+ moneyline bet on The Vols vs. The Wildcats game and get $200 back if you pick the winner! (That’s $200 in addition to your winnings)
While Tennessee’s matchup against Georgia next week might be the one that every Vols fan has circled on their calendars, this game is far from a tune-up, and Josh Heupel knows that as well as anybody. Kentucky enters the contest ranked 19th in the latest AP Poll, and if future first-round pick Will Levis hadn’t gotten injured against Ole Miss, the Wildcats would probably be in contention for the SEC East. When healthy, the Wildcat’s offense is about as explosive as what goes down on my toilet the morning after some drunk Taco Bell. In their last game against Mississippi State, Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns with a wake of broken tackles in his warpath. Gaining yardage after the carry is nothing new for Rodriguez, who gains 3.6 yards after contact this season. In 2021, he was the second best back in the nation in YAC. So Kentucky has a pretty good offensive line, a quarterback NFL fan bases would give a left testicle for, and a great run game…where’s their weakness? The Kentucky defense isn’t great, and it especially doesn’t match up against the Vols well. At a 4.30% sack rate, Kentucky puts less pressure on opposing quarterbacks than almost any team in college football. Hendon Hooker might have enough time in the pocket to finally get around to watching The Irishman on Saturday.
While Tennessee’s secondary isn’t great (the 316 yards against UT Martin was a bit much), they pose some matchup nightmares for Kentucky. The Vols can beat opposing teams either way. They have a Heisman quarterback with a rushing attack that doesn’t get nearly enough credit. What Hendon Hooker and Jalen Hyatt are doing this year is special, for crying out loud; Hyatt has 13 catches, 381 yards, and seven TDs in his past two games. But while SportsCenter may only be showing the Hooker/Hyatt deep connections, the Vols are quietly averaging 203.2 rushing yards per game behind the legs of Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright. Kentucky doesn’t defend the rush well, and they also might have the worst pass rush Tennessee has faced all year. If Jalen Hyatt was able to put up a school record with five touchdown receptions against Alabama, one could only imagine what he’ll be able to do when his quarterback has all the time in the world on Saturday. Tennessee’s defense matches up against the Wildcats just as nicely as their offense does. The Vols have a top-five rushing defense in the nation, only allowing 93.5 rushing yards per game. This puts all the pressure on Will Levis to perform, and because the Vols have a competent pass rush, Kentucky fans will soon know the pain every man has felt a time or two- getting Levis caught on the sack. Vegas likes Tennessee -12.5, but you only need to take the Vols moneyline to get your free $200 from DraftKings!