Posted by Jerry Hinnen
KENTUCKY WON: In and of itself, not a big deal. But they won against Tennessee. Kentucky never beats Tennessee. They hadn't done it in 26 years. They'd had a dozen golden opportunities over the years and never pulled it off. Apparently, what they needed was to plug in a wide receiver at quarterback and let him operate out of the Wildcat nearly the entire game; Matt Roark ran for 152 yards and tailback CoShik Williams added 68 yards and the one second-half touchdown the Wildcats would need. The much-maligned Kentucky defense held Tyler Bray below a 50 percent completion rate and picked him off twice -- once on the Vols' 4th-and-17 final desperate play -- and of course the Tennessee running game added nothing. Result? Wildcats 10, Vols 7. Yes, Virginia, Kentucky can beat Tennessee.
WHY KENTUCKY WON: As much attention as Joker Phillips' decision to go to Roark at quarterback and completely forsake the terrible Wildcat passing game will get -- Kentucky only attempted 6 passes, completing four of them for all of 15 yards -- this game was ultimately about how flat-out awful the Volunteer offense became over the second half of this season. Shooting blanks against Alabama or LSU or with Justin Worley at the helm is one thing; with Bray under center and facing the nation's 64th-ranked defense, the Vols should have been able to put at least a few points on the board, right?
Aside from one 54-yard bomb from Bray to Raijon Neal that gave Tennessee a brief glimmer of second-half hope: entirely wrong. Bray averaged a just-better-than-terrible 5.7 yards an attempt, thanks half in part to some scattershot throws and half due to the Vol receivers failing repeatedly to get open. As always, the Tennessee running game did nothing, netting 61 yards on 24 carries. And with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the Vol line could not keep Kentucky's defensive line off of Bray--thus the game coming down to "4th-and-17."
Derek Dooley is about to have a flamethrower taken to him by Vol fans and the Knoxville media, not that it will keep him from a third year at the helm. But his inability to find any way to get the Tennessee offense moving at all -- especially when contrasted with Phillips's ingenuity with Roark -- means some of that heat is justified.
WHEN TENNESSEE LOST: When Taiedo Smith picked off Bray on that 4th-and-17 from Tennessee's 31. With fewer than 90 seconds left and no Vol timeouts remaining, all that was left was the Wildcat victory formation.
WHAT KENTUCKY WON: I think they'll be happy with snapping the nation's longest annual series losing streak, don't you?
WHAT TENNESSEE LOST: Not only did the loss end the nation's longest annual series winning streak, not only will it crank up the heat on Dooley's seat to the hottest levels in the SEC (and maybe the nation), but this loss drops Tennessee to 5-7 overall--and will leave the Vols home for bowl season, depriving them not only of the prestige and payout but the extra practice that Dooley's young team desperately needs. There's no way to spin this as anything less than a total disaster for the Vols and their head coach.