College Football Lock Of The Week: Tennessee vs. Kentucky

tennessee kentucky picks preview

Getty Image / Silas Walker

There are plenty of great games each and every week on the college football slate that jump out at you making it that much harder to zero in on one game each Saturday. In this weekly series, we’ll circle one game, break down the matchup and lay out the evidence as to why this is the lock of the week.

Our lock of the week will always be a pick against the spread. While we’re not saying it’s wrong to bet over/unders or money lines, we’re just going the spread route.

Last week we went with Memphis (-6) to cover against SMU. The pick looked great until SMU decided to go for two late, for no real reason, to lose by six and make it a push. This week we’re circling an under-the-radar, big SEC matchup between Tennessee and Kentucky.

Tennessee (+1) @ Kentucky

Tennessee (4-5, 2-3 in the SEC)

Kentucky (4-4, 2-4 in the SEC)

Kickoff: 7:30 PM EST on SEC Network

This certainly isn’t the premier matchup on the college football slate or even the SEC slate this weekend, but it does mean a lot to each team as both look to increase their bowl game chances with a win.

The Vols enter the game winners of three of their last four while the Wildcats – who enter the game off a bye – showed some serious life two weeks ago with a win over Missouri in Lexington.

To say Tennessee has dominated this series would be an understatement. The Vols hold a 53-14-3 all-time record against Kentucky and have won six of the last eight with their last loss in the series coming two years ago at Kentucky.

While the Wildcats may have won the last time these two teams did battle in the bluegrass state, I don’t see that happening this time around. Tennessee simply has too much momentum going at the moment while Kentucky is going to be too one-dimensional to get things done offensively.

The Vols’ defense is going to cause problems for Kentucky’s offense that will likely be led by wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr, only he won’t be playing wide receiver, he’ll be under center as quarterback. Tennessee leads the SEC in interceptions with 13 on the year and when Kentucky is forced to throw the ball the ball-hawking secondary is going to be an issue for the Wildcats.

Kentucky is going to have to rely very heavily on the run game with their banged-up quarterback room but could hit a wall there as well as Tennessee’s run defense ranks eighth in the SEC and 41st overall in the nation allowing just over 137 rushing yards per contest.

On the offensive side of the ball, Jauan Jennings will be the most electric playmaker on either team regardless of which Tennessee quarterback gets him the ball. Jennings has wracked up 310 yards receiving over the last three games and has caught seven touchdowns on the year; he’ll be a handful for the Wildcats if the Vols get him the ball enough.

Tennessee gets the win in Kentucky giving them a very good chance at reaching a bowl game with Missouri and Vanderbilt still left on the schedule to get to six, maybe even seven wins on the year.