Devil's Advocate

"This is the week Tennessee snaps out of it."

You've heard people say that. You've probably said it yourself. Heck, I said it the week of the Memphis game. I was wrong, though, as were the people who projected the Vols to snap out of their offensive doldrums in Games 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Face it: Tennessee isn't going to snap out of it. Tennessee isn't a good team needing a break or two. It's a mediocre team incapable of making its own breaks. Except for tailback Arian Foster and receiver C.J. Fayton, there isn't one bright spot on the Vol offense this year. The quarterbacks have struggled, the wide-outs have underachieved, the linemen have been erratic and the tight ends have been missing in action.

The Kentucky team UT will face Saturday in Lexington ranks dead last among the 12 SEC schools in rushing defense (191 yards per game), pass defense (264 yards per game), total defense (455 yards per game) and scoring defense (35.7 points per game). But it won't matter against Tennessee. The Vols managed just 24 points last weekend on their home field against a Vanderbilt team that was allowing 33.9 points per game and ranked next-to-last in virtually every SEC defensive category.

Tennessee's offensive ineptitude isn't the only reason to like Kentucky's chances Saturday, however. Here are several more factors that favor the Big Blue:

1. Kentucky's Rafael Little leads the SEC in punt-return average (17.3 yards). Georgia and Notre Dame already returned punts for touchdowns against UT this season. Little also had a 99-yard kickoff return for a TD against Idaho State.

2. After losing to Tennessee 20 times in a row, the Wildcats are desperate to win. Moreover, they know the Vols have never been as vulnerable as they are right now. UT has lost five of its last six games and has absolutely nothing to play for Saturday.

3. No matter how bad Kentucky is, the Wildcats usually give Tennessee fits in Lexington. The Vols squeaked by 34-31 in 1995, 35-33 in 2001 and 20-7 in 2003.

4. The afore-mentioned Little leads the SEC in all-purpose yardage at 185.4 yards per game. His rushing and receiving abilities will enable Kentucky to control the ball and score points on Tennessee. UK produced 27 points against a salty Auburn defense and hung twice as many points on Vandy (48) as Tennessee did (24).

5. With Rick Clausen injured, Erik Ainge will start at quarterback vs. the Wildcats. He has been wildly inconsistent all year.

6. Tennessee hasn't played a complete football game all year. Why would the Vols play one now?


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