The Wildcats rushed for 443 yards, the second-highest figure in program history, but left Neyland Stadium with a surprisingly decisive 49-36 loss on Saturday in their SEC finale.
It marked the 31st time in 32 years that Kentucky has fallen to its border rival.
Red-zone execution was the main culprit. Kentucky scored touchdowns on only two of six trips deep into Tennessee territory, while the Volunteers consistently found their way to the end zone.
"We moved the ball very well. It just comes down to red zone," UK head coach Mark Stoops said. "Anytime you get 635 yards of offense, it's hard to complain too much."
The Vols (7-3, 3-3 SEC) finished with 599 yards of total offense -- 36 fewer than UK gained -- but rode a monster game by Joshua Dobbs to victory. The senior quarterback passed for 223 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Alvin Kamara added 128 yards rushing and two scores for the Vols.
"We just gave up way too many explosive plays," Stoops said. "... They isolate you in space, and you have to tackle."
Kentucky (5-5, 4-4 SEC) got 127 yards rushing from Boom Williams, 90 from Jojo Kemp, 79 from Benny Snell and 75 from Sihiem King. Quarterback Stephen Johnson added 72 of his own, but unlike Dobbs, struggled in the passing game. He finished 12-of-29 for 192 yards and an interception.
The Cats' rushing total was only three yards shy of the school record set against Tennessee Tech in 1951.
In this All Wildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the highlights from UK's loss...
WHAT WENT WRONG:
Kentucky held leads of 7-0 and 10-7 in the first quarter before the game started to slip away from the Wildcats early in the second period. UK drove to the Tennessee 1-yard line on the strength of Snell's power running, but the freshman running back was thrown for a loss on third-and-goal. The Cats settled for the second of three Austin MacGinnis field goals on the day, and UT responded with a seven-play, 79-yard drive to go up 21-13 on a Dobbs 10-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Wolf. Kentucky would draw within 21-16 on -- yes, another MacGinnis field goal from the red zone to start the third quarter -- but that's the closest it would get. The Vols closed out the game with what Stoops labeled "explosive" touchdown plays of 51, 17, 45 and 29 yards against a UK defense that couldn't find any answers.
Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee -- Much like former Mississippi State star Dak Prescott -- now leading the Dallas Cowboys' resurgent season -- Dobbs loves playing against a Kentucky defense. The inconsistent UT signal-caller produced 284 yards and four combined touchdowns in the Vols' 52-21 romp over the Cats last year at Commonwealth Stadium.
BY THE NUMBERS:
5 - Third-down situations faced by UT the entire game.
6 of 17 - Kentucky's third-down conversion rate.
101 - Points UK has surrendered to UT in back to back years.
819 - Combined rushing yards for the two teams.
1984 - Kentucky's last win in Knoxville.
35:21 - Time of possession for the Cats.
"Dobbs has been around a long time. Man, I'm tired of seeing him." -- Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops on the UT quarterback who improved to 4-0 for his career against the Cats.
Kentucky returns to action next Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium when the Wildcats face Austin Peay. The Governors (0-9, 0-7 OVC) were playing Eastern Kentucky later this evening.