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Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Tennessee


After an open date, the University of Kentucky football team will play host to No. 21/20 Tennessee on Saturday, Oct. 28 under the lights of Kroger Field on ESPN. It’s been three years since the Wildcats have beaten the Volunteers, but a win Saturday would split the record, 2-2, over their last four meetings.

Senior running back Ray Davis spearheads the Kentucky offense, leading the SEC in rushing (111.6 yards per game), all-purpose yardage (139.1 ypg), touchdowns (13) and scoring (11.1 points per game). Senior quarterback Devin Leary has thrown for 1,377 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The UK defense has been led by cornerback Maxwell Hairston, who leads the SEC in pass interceptions with five, two of which have been returned for touchdowns. He shares the team lead in tackles with linebacker D’Eryk Jackson, each with 44 stops.

Kentucky-Tennessee Series

• Saturday marks the 119th meeting between the border rivals.
• The two teams have met annually since 1919, except for 1943, when Kentucky did not field a team. The 119 all-time meetings are the most for UK vs. any one opponent.
• Kentucky trails in the all-time series against Tennessee, 83-26-9.
• The Wildcats also trail the series in Lexington, 39-15-3.
• UT has won the last two straight meetings, and four of the last six meetings.
• The last time UK defeated UT was in 2020, 34-7, in Knoxville.
• The last time UK defeated UT at home was in 2017, 29-26.
• Biggest UK win: 56 (56-0) in 1893 in Knoxville (first-ever meeting)
• Biggest Tennessee win: 52 (52-0) in 1994 in Knoxville

Kentucky-Tennessee Connections

• Kentucky has six players from the state of Tennessee on its roster, including:
• Wide receivers Barion Brown (Nashville) and Shamar Porter (Nashville), quarterback Destin Wade (Spring Hill), outside linebacker Keaten Wade (Spring Hill) and defensive linemen Tre’vonn Rybka (Dickson) and Edric Simmons (Nashville)
• Tennessee has two players from the state of Kentucky on its roster, including:
• Linebacker Kalib Perry (Georgetown) and defensive back Cristian Conyer (Bowling Green)
• Eddie Gran, special assistant to head coach Mark Stoops, served as a running backs coach at Tennessee in 2009.
• Mitch Barnhart, who is in his 22nd year as UK’s Director of Athletics, held several positions at Tennessee Athletics from 1986-98.

A UK Win Would …

• Make UK bowl-eligible for a school-record eighth straight season.
• Improve UK to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference.
• Improve UK to 2-1 against Associated Press ranked teams this season.
• Help an unranked-UK team to its second win over a ranked-UT team since 2020.
• Help UK improve to a 5-35-1 all-time record against ranked-UT teams.
• Help UK to an 11-12 record against ranked teams since 2018.
• Help UK win 18 of their past 23 games at Kroger Field.
• Help UK to an 18-5 record in their last 23 home night games, including 2-1 in 2023.
• Help UK improve to a 27-83-9 all-time record against UT.
• Help UK improve to a 16-39-3 record against UT in Lexington.
• Help UK to two wins in its past four meetings with UT.
• Extend head coach Mark Stoops’ all-time school records for wins to 72, SEC wins to 35, wins over ranked opponents to 13 and home wins to 51.

100-yard rushing games for Ray Davis this season

Interceptions for Maxwell Hairston, tied for most in the country this season

Wins for UK head coach Mark Stoops against ranked teams, the most in school history

Meetings between Kentucky and Tennessee all-time, making the Vols the opponent the Cats have faced more than any team

Career passing yards for UK quarterback Devin Leary, which ranks 26th among active FBS players

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