KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Greetings everybody from a wet and cold Neyland Stadium asÂ the UK football team gets set to battle Tennessee inÂ the last regular season game for both teams.Â The Cats (6-5, 2-5Â Southeastern Conference) come into thisÂ game hoping to improve their bowl resume as well as snap the dreadedÂ 23-gameÂ losing streak to the Volunteers (4-7, 2-5 SEC), the longest active streak in college football.
If UK is ever going to beat Tennessee, this is the year. The Vols struggles this year have been well documented. After starting the season in just about every top-25 preseason poll, Tennessee has fallen flat on its face.
The Vols snapped a three-game losing streak last week by downing Vanderbilt, but at that point it was too late. Before Tennessee suffered an embarrassing loss to Wyoming on Nov. 8, Phillip Fulmer announced that he would beÂ stepping down as head coach of the Tennessee program. Tonight will be his final game, concluding 17 years at the helm of the program. ESPN is reporting former Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin will be announced the next coach on Monday.
What does that mean for the Cats? Well, first of all, this is their final chance to beat Fulmer, who owns the majority of those 23-straight wins. It also means this game should be a pretty emotional one for both the coaching staff and players of Tennessee.
The Vols will send off an additional 24 seniors on Senior Day, and they have nothing to lose. Unlike most years in recent history, there’s no bowl game or sunny destination awaiting the Vols. The only thing on their minds is sending Fulmer off with a perfect record against the Cats.
Couple of quick notes before I take off to get something to eat: In case you’ve forgotten, three of the last four games in thie series has been decided by six points or less, including Tennessee’s 52-50 four-overtime victory last season in Lexington. The Cats will be missing three defensive starters: senior free safety Marcus McClinton, junior defensive end Jeremy Jarmon and sophomore defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin. And the final nugget: The Volunteers passed the ball just nine times last week for 21 yards. Expect a similar game plan tonight.
UPDATE: Bowl representatives from the Chick-fil-AÂ Bowl and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl are in the house. Speaking of in the house, there are few if any Tennessee students in the house for this one. The student section is about as near empty as you can get. I can understand a smaller crowd because of the season Tennessee is having and given that it’s Thanksgiving weekend. But still, what I’m seeing is pathetic.