"It has taken a toll," the senior Boyd said of losing to the Vols year after year. "It's tough when you sometimes are close but you don't get it done. We have to put ourselves in position to win and get over the hump. We have to be able to finish the game."
To pull off a win against the Vols, who will represent the East Division in the Southeastern Conference championship game, would do wonders for the Wildcats morale heading into next season.
"It would do a lot for the guys coming back," Boyd said. "They have a prestigious program. They are always tough. They are ranked every year, and they always have a great team. To put up a big victory would be a good building tool and a confidence boost for the guys next year."
Coming off a 14-13 comeback win over Vanderbilt two weeks ago has revived the Wildcats, who staged the biggest fourth-quarter rally in school history to pull off the victory.
"The win was a confidence boost, especially the way we won it," Boyd said. "It gave us a lift after we had been on a losing streak."
The Wildcats will no doubt need to piece together one of their best efforts offensively to have a chance against Tennessee. Kentucky averages 162 yards passing and 108 rushing. Boyd said the Kentucky attack has looked better in recent weeks.
"We have been able to move the ball more," he said. "Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot, but we have been able to put together some drives and get some scores.
"As a team, I think we are coming together now. The offense, defense and special teams are better. We just have to carry that through against Tennessee."
The lack of an established, dependable running game has hurt the Kentucky offense. Boyd is the team‚s leading rusher with 279 yards. Running back Rafael Little has just 256 yards.
When the offensive line has played well, the Wildcats have shown they can be effective.
"We‚ve done well when we have controlled the line of scrimmage," Boyd said. "The game is won in the trenches. When we open holes for the run, it opens up the play-action passing. It's been up and down, but they are giving it all they have."
When Kentucky's offense has struggled, it's often been due to mental mistakes, Boyd said.
"It's all about execution," he said. "Nobody can be out of place, whether it's running a route or the quarterback making the right read. We have to eliminate those things."