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November 29, 2013

Stoops, Cats have final shot at SEC win in 2013

KENTUCKY (2-9, 0-7 SEC)
Coach: Mark Stoops
Record: 2-9 in first season at UK and overall
Last game: Georgia 59, Kentucky 17
Next game: Season finale
Roster | Depth chart
TENNESSEE (4-7, 1-6 SEC)
Coach: Butch Jones
Record: 4-7 in first season at Tennessee; 54-34 in seventh season overall
Last game: Vanderbilt 14, Tennessee 10
Next game: Season finale
Roster | Depth chart
Game/Series Information
Game Information
Site: Commonwealth Stadium (67,942), Lexington, Ky.
TV: ESPNU (Clay Matvick play-by-play, Matt Stinchcomb analysis, Dawn Davenport sideline)
Radio: UK IMG Sports Network (Tom Leach play-by-play, Jeff Piecoro analysis; Dick Gabriel sideline); Sirius 119/XM 199
Internet: Audio | Video
Favorite: Tennessee by 4

Series Information:
Series record: Tennessee leads 75-24-9
At Lexington: Tennessee leads 34-13-3
Coaches' records: Stoops 0-0 vs. Tennessee; Jones 0-0 vs. UK

Last meeting
Tennessee 37, Kentucky 17 (Nov. 24, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn.)
Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray threw four touchdown passes to lead Tennessee to victory in a game in which the Wildcats had more rushing yards, completed 10 more passes and had a nine-minute edge in time of possession. Tennessee offset those advantages with big plays, as Bray tossed touchdowns of 21, 42, 28 and 21 yards. Jalen Whitlow kept Kentucky close, completing 29 of 45 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown.

Keys to the Game
1. Struggling Streaks: Both Kentucky and Tennessee will look to end unfortunate streaks when the teams meet Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. The Wildcats have lost 15 straight Southeastern Conference games. UK's last SEC win game against the Volunteers when it snapped a 26-game losing streak to the Vols in 2011. Tennessee, meanwhile, has lost 11 straight SEC road games and 12 straight road games overall.

2. Young Gun: Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs is the eighth true freshman starting quarterback in school history and the third in the past four seasons. Dobbs has played in four games and started three and has completed 58 of 98 passes for 496 yards with five interceptions and no touchdowns. Said UK coach Mark Stoops: "They have a young quarterback that's a very talented guy. Maybe a lot like us. We've got plays that are there at times. You're just a fraction off here or there from really putting some good plays together and good drives."

3. Final Finale: At least for now, this will be the last time UK and UT finish their seasons against one another. Next season the game moves up two weeks as the Wildcats' annual game with Louisville moves to the last game of the year. Tennessee has been Kentucky's final game of the season since 1953 with the exception of 2001, when the Cats played Indiana in a game rescheduled due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Staff Predictions
T.J. Walker, Staff Writer: Tennessee 31, Kentucky 16 Mark Stoops' first season at UK ends the way it started, with a disappointing loss. The Cats were competitive in a chunk of games this season, but it seems all the offseason distractions have caught up and deterred UK's progress. The Vols are more talented and will pick on UK's secondary.

Aaron Smith, staff writer: Kentucky 24, Tennessee 21 The Volunteers have more to like from a results standpoint. They've beaten teams UK couldn't (WKU, South Carolina) and stayed competitive against teams UK couldn't. But Tennessee has a host of its own problems, so why couldn't this be the game Stoops finally sees his first SEC win?

Justin Rowland, Football Recruiting Analyst: Kentucky 24, Tennessee 21 Tennessee is coming off an emotionally deflating loss to in-state rival Vanderbilt. They have trouble containing mobile quarterbacks and their offense doesn't look too great. Home-field advantage for the Wildcats.

Brett Dawson, Publisher: Tennessee 24, Kentucky 10 If there are any tricks left up Stoops' sleeve, they'll be on display Saturday. Neither team has much to play for, but each is hoping to close out its first-year coach's season on a high note. It's the first game of next year for Stoops and Jones. But Jones has better players, and the Vols should be able to score enough to hold off Kentucky's upset bid.

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