Tennessee vs. Kentucky kicks off this Saturday at 7:00pm EST in Lexington Kentucky as a home game for the Wildcats. Tennessee is currently a -3.5 favorite and -165 on the moneyline while the total is set at 51.5. Read on for more Tennessee vs. Kentucky best bets and predictions as this shapes up to be a defensive slugfest that plays towards the under.
Tennessee Vs. Kentucky Prediction
It was a tale of two halves for the Volunteers in their last game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. After getting off to a hot start up 20-7 as a +9.5 underdog, they folded under the pressure and eventually blew their lead to the tune of 20-34. A disappointing second half as their offense was held scoreless and their defense ran over, potentially losing any hope they had for a SEC championship berth.
As for Kentucky, they come off a much-needed bye week after losing 38-21 to the revamped Missouri Tigers. Their secondary was routinely shredded by the high-powered Missouri pass attack, failing to match the Tigers scoring pace as their offense struggled to generate any sort of consistency. Big deficits are tough for Kentucky to overcome as a brunt of their offensive success comes from the ground game.
Lucky for Kentucky, this game may be a lot closer throughout a majority of the contest as their defense is in a good position to slow down the Tennessee offense. Joe Milton is not the same threat as Brady Cook, mightily struggling to connect with his wideouts in stride. This gives Kentucky’s secondary relief as the Wildcats rank a lowly 121st in Def Pass Success Rate and 57th in Def Pass PPA. At an already low Passing Rate, Joe Milton ranks 59th in Pass Success Rate, 82nd in PPA, and 117th in Pass Explosiveness.
That leads to a heavier dose of the run, forcing the Vols to try and find rush production against a stout Kentucky rush defense. The Wildcats currently rank 24th in Def Rush PPA, 16th in Def Rush Success Rate, and 34th in Def Rush Explosiveness. The Vols Jaylen Wright is one of the more lethal running backs in football, yet he may be in for a long night as he tries to find success against a stacked box as Milton will do him no favors with his lackluster throwing ability.
As for Kentucky’s offense, expect the same heavy dose of the run as that has been their main catalyst for offensive success. Ray Davis has been a man possessed in the backfield, leading the Wildcats to above average marks in advanced rushing metrics. Like Milton, Kentucky’s Devin Leary has struggled to generate any sort of consistency through the air. Tennessee already poses as a tough rush defense to crack, now also getting the benefit of stacking the box in an effort to slow down Davis.
Tennessee Vs. Kentucky Prediction: Under 51.5
Tennessee Vs. Kentucky Betting Odds
Even with Tennessee reeling off of a tough loss and Kentucky coming off of a bye week, oddsmakers still lean towards the Volunteers favor by opening them as a -3.5 favorite. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either side of the spread, keeping the number the same since the open.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 50.5. Bettors believe that number opened a tad too low, backing the over up to 51.5 as of writing. The total has hovered between the key numbers of 49 and 52, still giving value to the under for a potential run heavy game script that will continuously bleed time off the clock.
Tennessee Vs. Kentucky Key Matchups
Will both defenses be able to limit points in scoring position?
Hold the Line
When it comes to cashing an under ticket, limiting points in the red zone can create a massive swing towards the bettor’s favor. That may be the case in this matchup as both units may experience red zone struggles for different reasons.
Kentucky ranks 40th in Points per Opportunity while the Volunteers match that success by ranking 21st with their red zone defense. On the other end, Kentucky has struggled to keep opposing offenses out of the end zone while Tennessee’s offense struggles at punching it in. Expecting a heavy dose of the run inside the 10, both defenses are in a position to keep each other out of the end zone as impressive run stoppers.