You can't talk about Kentucky and Tennessee without discussing the 26 game long winning streak that Tennessee is on against the Wildcats. It's the longest such streak in FBS football among teams who play every year. Needless to say, Kentucky needs to find a way to break this streak to legitimize the program for the future.
Despite this season being a disappointing one for the followers of the Kentucky program, beating Tennessee means a lot. The Volunteers aren't the Vols of Manning, Fulmer or Majors. This program has taken its share of lumps over the last several years as well – but they have maintained this winning streak. And that makes this game important.
As much as the Wildcats have struggled, this is yet another prime opportunity for Kentucky to break this streak and end a season of disappointments on a positive note.
Derek Dooley has a collection of young players with talent, but the second year coach has struggled after losing several of Lane Kiffin's players for various reasons. Still, with a victory over Kentucky, the Volunteers will reach bowl eligibility for another season under Dooley.
For Kentucky, there is no bowl. Saturday is Kentucky's bowl game. With a senior class that has seen three bowls and a number of unexpected victories, finally knocking off the school down I-75 would be a sweet ending to a bitter year.
With a victory over the Vols, much maligned coach Joker Phillips could be the first coach since his own coach at Kentucky, Jerry Claiborne, to win the Tennessee game. Phillips was also the first coach at Kentucky to defeat Steve Spurrier. Two nice footnotes to his resume at Kentucky.
Kentucky has many reasons to be motivated to win this game. A win over the Volunteers has been one of the missing links to the success of this senior class. Additionally, they could do something that hasn't been done in their lifetimes. Tennessee is on the verge of bowl eligibility and defeating the Volunteers this weekend would dash any bowl hopes that Dooley's team has.
But the biggest thing this team should be playing for is pride. While Kentucky has fallen on tough times this season after five straight bowl appearances, this team's heart lies in a senior class who has given a lot to the university. They have a lot of pride in their accomplishments and finding a way to pull out this victory over Tennessee would cement them into Wildcat lore. Tim Couch never did it. Jared Lorenzen never did it. Andre Woodson and Wesley Woodyard never did it. Randall Cobb never did it. Can Danny Trevathan?
We'll find out on Saturday.