Why the UT-UK Match-Up Could Be a Repeat of 2018

by | Nov 7, 2019 | Analysis

The Vols are preparing to make the 3-hour trip up to Lexington to battle with Mark Stoops’ Kentucky Wildcats in what is thought to be the most influential game remaining on Tennessee’s schedule. In order for Tennessee to pass the 6 win threshold required to gain entry to a Bowl Game they must earn a road victory against either Kentucky or Missouri, and they’ll have a prime opportunity to get that barrier out of the way this Saturday. The main key they will need to use in order to achieve this is to shut down Kentucky’s one dimensional, run-based, offense as quickly as possible, just as they did last season.

Last year the Wildcats were considered to be the favorites heading into the match-up with Tennessee, and with star running back Benny Snell, many thought that the Wildcat’s offense would simply pound the ball down Tennessee’s throats. As it turned out, the opposite happened as Tennessee shut down Kentucky’s running game and as a result, they were entirely unable to put points on the board. The Vols defeated Kentucky 24-7 in a game that was lopsided since the beginning, in fact, UK struggled to put any points on the board as they converted their one touchdown well after the game was out of reach.

The reason Kentucky lost that game when they were the much better team was simple, they relied way too much on their run game to the point in which their offense was entirely one dimensional. The goal for Jeremy Pruitt was simple, stop Benny Snell. He knew if he was able to do that, Kentucky’s offense had no other way of moving the ball down the field. That is the danger of going all-in on one element of the game. When a team finally stops it, your failure is all but guaranteed.

This season could hold more of the same as the Wildcats are yet again entirely reliant on the run game. If Tennessee is able to shutdown Lynn Bowden on the ground, they will not be able to make up for it through the air. In simple terms, if Tennessee can shut down the Wildcats on the ground they have pretty much completely taken away their ability to put points on the scoreboard.

The striking similarities between last year’s match-up with Kentucky and this season’s are extremely interesting, as the result could repeat itself due to Kentucky’s one dimensional offensive philosophy. You can watch the Volunteers take on the Wildcats at 7:30ET on the SEC Network in a game that may make or break Tennessee’s bowl hopes.

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