Kentucky’s recent — and even distant — history against Tennessee would suggest a clear favorite amongst the two teams in 2017, but one SEC writer believes the Wildcats have what it takes to come up on top of the Volunteers when all is said and done.
Pat Dooley, who covers Florida for the Gainesville Sun, said on the Paul Finebaum show Wednesday he thought Kentucky would have a better record than Tennessee at the end of the year.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) June 28, 2017
Kentucky doesn’t have the on-paper talent that Tennessee possesses, but the Wildcats’ schedule looks very favorable and could play a real factor in the SEC East standings.
Kentucky’s fortune starts with its cross-division matchups: Ole Miss and Mississippi State. UK will travel to Starkville on Oct. 21 and will host the Rebels on Nov. 4. Contrasting this with Tennessee’s SEC West opponents (@ Alabama, vs LSU), the Wildcats appear to have an enormous advantage.
Looking at the rest of the SEC slate, Kentucky has three winnable road games in the Bulldogs, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. The catch here is the Wildcats must go to Georgia on Nov. 18 to round out their conference schedule. But, that means UK scored home games against SEC-East favorite Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss and, of course, Tennessee.
That matchup with the Vols on Oct. 28 could ultimately be what decides the difference between these two teams. Tennessee has dominated that matchup throughout history. UK has just one win over the Vols — a 10-7 home victory in 2011— since 1984.
Tennessee probably shouldn’t have any trouble finishing above Kentucky, but there is a window for the Wildcats to shock their neighbors to the south.