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Tennessee had the opportunity to take a week off and get healthy after eight straight games and a good amount of injuries. Coming off the Alabama game, the Vols have taken this week to straighten up a few things on each side of the ball. But even though they aren’t playing this weekend, Tennessee fans still have a team to root for.
This Saturday, we will all watch the game in Starkville where Kentucky will face off against Mississippi State. It will probably turn into some kind of messed up shootout in which both teams try to capture the win. The Bulldogs want to continue playing well on offense, after Will Rogers threw it 57 times in the win over Vanderbilt, while Kentucky salivates over the thought of grabbing a W in Starkville for the first time since 2008.
The Wildcats will rely on Chris Rodriguez, which frees up Will Levis to work his magic with the receiving corps. Honestly, this could end up being the second best SEC game of the weekend, if Auburn and Ole Miss doesn’t disappoint. By the way, I am not putting much stock into the Georgia vs. Florida matchup, especially if Dan Mullen can’t figure out how to use Anthony Richardson.
But for Tennessee and the football program, I’ll be quietly cheering for Kentucky to handle its business in Mississippi, mostly because it sets up the Vols for the chance at a signature win next weekend in Lexington. If the Wildcats can win this weekend, there’s a good possibility they will be ranked in the top 10, which would give Josh Heupel the perfect opportunity to get his first signature win at Tennessee.
I know some fans will look at the Kentucky game and tell themselves a win in Lexington won’t do much on the national level. But I’d tell those fans they’re wrong. Going on the road and knocking off a top 10 team would be huge for this staff, especially in recruiting.
The Vols have already proven they can hang with the best of teams for a time. They did so in Tuscaloosa last weekend and against Ole Miss the week before. So, going on the road and beating this Kentucky team would do wonders from a mental standpoint for this program, especially if Kentucky improves to 7-1 this Saturday.
If both teams were healthy right now and played tomorrow, I think Tennessee would have a fantastic chance to beat the Wildcats. I simply don’t trust the offensive strategy from Kentucky at the moment. If Chris Rodriguez can’t establish himself in the running game, Will Levis and Wan’Dale Robinson have to make up yardage through the air.
Meanwhile, the way Hendon Hooker has come onto the scene for the Vols this season hasn’t gone unnoticed, and experts continue to discuss his reemergence onto the college football scene. He is currently third in passing efficiency in all of college football, and if it weren’t for a bad leg, he probably would’ve had 100 yards rushing against Alabama. Let’s not forget how good this team could be with a healthy offensive line and Tiyon Evans.
All I am saying is if you’re a Tennessee fan and you find yourself sitting at home watching the game in Starkville, it’s ok to let out a cheer if Kentucky scores a touchdown on the last possession to win.
You’d be pretty happy if the Vols went to Lexington next weekend and knocked off a 7-1 football team, a team that would almost assuredly be ranked in the top 10. Don’t worry, nobody will call you a Vol-Cat.
So, don’t act like you won’t be cheering for Kentucky this weekend, now that I’ve laid out why every self-respecting Tennessee fan should. Just remember: every time the C-A-T-S score, it’s really the V-O-L-S who win.