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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Kentucky vs. Tennessee (10/29/2022)

By Ryan Potts
October 28, 2022
Photo by: Andy Lyons - Getty Images

Kentucky vs. Tennessee (10/29 @ 7:00 p.m. EST.)

Line: Tennessee -11.5
Total: 61

Kentucky vs Tennessee Breakdown and Betting Odds

The No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats (5-2) are heading to Knoxville to face the No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Volunteers are 11.5-point favorites over the Wildcats. The over/under is set at 61 points.

Tennessee has dominated the total series, going 82-26-9 lifetime. Since 1985, Kentucky has only won three matchups despite the teams playing every season. Kentucky won close games at home in 2011 and 2017, but the shocking result was a 27-point win in Knoxville in 2020. Tennessee won last year’s matchup, a high-scoring affair in Lexington.

Kentucky Overview

Kentucky opened the season on a four-game win streak including an emphatic win on the road against a ranked Florida team. However, Kentucky stumbled in back-to-back games to Ole Miss and South Carolina to slip from No. 7 in the polls to No. 22. They did rebound in their last game against Mississippi State, but the SEC seems to have been lost.

Kentucky has been led by one of the top defenses in the country. They are ninth in scoring defense, holding opponents to 16.4 points per game. Even in SEC play, they are holding teams under 20 points per game. Linebacker Jordan Wright leads the team with seven tackles for loss, creating much havoc. Kentucky has had a staunch run defense, allowing 3.9 yards per attempt. They have had some issues forcing turnovers, but the total defense has been excellent.

Kentucky has scuffled offensively, scoring 26.4 points per game. They are 84th in scoring. Much of his falls on potential first-round pick Will Levis. Levis has missed some action, and he has not quite played like the Heisman front-runner that many thought he would be. Levis does have 15 total touchdowns to just five interceptions, however. Christopher Rodriguez Jr. and Kavosiey Smoke have been solid options out of the backfield, but the Wildcats live and die with Levis.

Kentucky is 3-2 ATS in their last five games, twice covering as underdogs. In their last game, they were underdogs, but they won outright over Mississippi State. The under is 4-1 with the only over hit coming by one point. Kentucky’s relatively ineffective offense combined with their elite scoring defense has been a recipe for unders.

Tennessee Overview

After beginning the season unranked, the Volunteers have gone on a tremendous run to rise to No. 3 in the country. They have four wins over ranked teams including a heart-stopping triumph over previously undefeated No. 3 Alabama two weeks ago. Tennessee’s defense has been solid, but they have the top scoring offense in college football.

Hendon Hooker is having a breakout fifth season of college football, ranking first in NCAA in passing yards per attempt and first in a variety of SEC stats. Hooker has 18 passing touchdowns to just one interception, averaging 10.8 yards per attempt. He has also tacked on three rushing touchdowns. Hooker’s explosion has coincided with a supernova named Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt has caught 40 passes for 769 yards and 12 touchdowns, more than doubling his previous collegiate production. His five-touchdown game against Alabama is on the shortlist for top performances in recent memory.

Tennessee’s defense has been hurt by their offense scoring in bucketloads, but they have a solid unit led by the likes of Trevon Flowers and Byron Young. Young leads the team in tackles for loss and sacks. Flowers is one of two Vols with multiple interceptions. Tennessee has a formidable run defense, allowing 2.9 yards per attempt. They have been gashed in the air, but much of this stems from pass-heavy game scripts as the Vols have an average margin of victory of 27.

Tennessee is 4-1 in their last five games ATS, only slipping as 11-point favorites over Florida. They have covered a pair of gargantuan spreads against Akron and Tennessee-Martin with their high-powered offenses. The over is 4-1 in the last five games, only failing to hit in a blowout win over LSU.

TakingVegas.com Pick: Kentucky +11.5

As good as Tennessee has been, they can be exploited through the air. Even in a high-scoring victory, Tennessee could allow Levis to have a strong game and keep Kentucky close enough to cover. For example, a 41-31 Tennessee win would give Kentucky the ATS win. Tennessee’s win over Florida is the perfect example as they led by 17 with five minutes to go before allowing a pair of touchdowns late. The outcome was never in doubt, but the spread was.

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