SEC college football final: Tennessee 33, Kentucky 27

Hoping to snap a two-game losing streak, Kentucky returns to action after a bye week to face the No. 21-ranked Tennessee Volunteers in an SEC East matchup at Kroger Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN.

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Final: Tennessee 33, Kentucky 27

Tennessee prevails 33-27 for its third straight win over Kentucky. The Vols are now 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the SEC. Kentucky drops to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the conference. UK plays at Mississippi State next Saturday. That’s a 7:30 p.m. start in Starkville, where Mark Stoops has not won as the Kentucky coach.

Kentucky could not get the stop it needed on Tennessee’s final drive.

Kentucky’s Alex Raynor kicks a 28-yard field goal to make it Tennessee 33, Kentucky 27 with 4:24 left. UK had a fourth-and-2 at the Tennessee but 10, but Mark Stoops elected to kick the field goal and make it a one-score game.

On a thid-and-10 from the UK 29, Tennessee’s Joe Milton hits Dylan Sampson out of the backfield for a 17-yard gain. Next play, Sampson scores on a 12-yard run, extending the visitors’ lead to 33-24 over Kentucky with 7:30 left at Kroger Field.

Milton is 14 of 16 for 187 yards and one touchdown.

Kentucky’s Alex Raynor misses a 53-yard field goal with 10:57 left. Tennessee still up 26-24. It was Raynor’s first miss of the season after making his first seven field goals.

End of third quarter: Tennessee 26, Kentucky 24

Kentucky sacks Joe Milton a third-and-6 and Tennessee will be in punt formation to start the fourth quarter.

Stats through three quarters

With Devin Leary hitting Dane Key for a 34-yard gain to the Tennessee 14, the Cats were able to cash in. Three plays later, Leary found Key again, this time for a 7-yard touchdown. Tennessee’s lead is now 26-24 with 2:39 left in the third quarter. Key has caught six passes for 92 yards and a score.

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton scrambled on a second-and-19 and hit Dont’e Thornton wide open in the middle of the field for a 47-yard gain. Kentucky’s defense stiffened, forcing a 35-yard field goal by Charles Campbell, his fourth of the night. Tennessee now up 26-17 with 6:49 left in the third quarter.

Milton is 11 of 13 for 167 yards passing with one touchdown.

Kentucky fails to convert on a fourth-and-6 at the Tennessee 34, turning the ball over on downs with 10:27 left in the third quarter.

Kentucky stops Tennessee on a third-and-2 from the UT 33 to start the second half. UT’s first possession of the night without points.

Halftime: Tennessee 23, Kentucky 17

Tennessee leads Kentucky 23-17 at the half.

Halftime stats

Helped by a controversial 18-yard completion on third-and-6, Tennessee gets its third field goal from Charles Campbell with five seconds left in the half. This one was from 34 yards. Vols lead Kentucky 23-17.

Kentucky drives right back down the field, going 75 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown. Ray Davis scored on a 7-yard run with 1:46 left in the first half to cut Tennessee’s lead to 20-17. UK QB Devin Leary is now 13 of 17 for 175 yards and one touchdown.

Kentucky’s Jordan Robinson fell down trying to keep up with Tennessee’s Chas Nimrod, who caught a 39-yard TD pass from quarterback Joe Milton. The touchdown came five plays and 1:22 after UK’s score. Vols now lead 20-10 with 6:16 left in the first half.

Kentucky can’t stop Tennessee’s run game. At the 6:16 mark, the Vols have rushed for 152 yards on 16 carries for a 9.5 yard per carry average.

Thanks to nice throws by Devin Leary and nice catches by Barion Brown, Kentucky has cut Tennessee’s lead to 13-10 with 7:38 left in the first half. The scoring play was an 11-yard pass from Leary to Brown, who made a nice catch for a 32-yard gain on the opening play of the possession.

With 7:38 left in the first half, Leary is 10 of 13 for 129 yards and a touchdown.

Charles Campbell drills his second field goal of the night, this time from 49 yards to put Tennessee up 13-3 with 11:13 left in the first half. Tennessee reached the UK 31-yard line where the drive stalled.

Kentucky’s Alex Raynor boots a 26-yard field goal with 14:51 left in the second quarter to get the Cats on the board. Tennessee leads 10-3. Raynor is now a perfect 7 of 7 on the season. UK’s drive was 65 yards in 10 plays. The drive-starter was a 22-yard pass from Devin Leary to Jordan Dingle, who also caught a 16-yard pass on the drive.

End of first quarter: Tennessee 10, Kentucky 0

Tennessee leads Kentucky 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, but UK has the ball at the Vols’ 10-yard line to start the second quarter.

First quarter stats

After the fourth-down stop, Tennessee’s Charles Campbell kicks a 44-yard field goal to put the Vols up 10-0 with 5:34 left in the first quarter.

Tennessee offensive lineman Andrej Karic goes down with an injury with 6:37 left.

Kentucky stopped on a fourth-and-1 at its own 34 -yard line with 8:37 to play in first quarter. Vols’ ball.

For the second straight year, Tennessee scored a TD vs. Kentucky on its fifth offensive play. Vols did the same last year. Scored on the first play in 2021. This tie, Jaylen Wright goes 52 yards for the score with 10:47 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 Vols’ lead.

Kentucky went three-and-out on its first possession.

Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Tayvion Robinson (9) runs the ball against Tennessee after a catch during the game at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky, Saturday, October 28, 2023.
Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Tayvion Robinson (9) runs the ball against Tennessee after a catch during the game at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky, Saturday, October 28, 2023.

Pregame notes

Kentucky offensive guard Kenneth Horsey is not dressed out.

From Jon Hale: “Good news and bad news for UK secondary: Jalen Geiger is dressed out after missing the Missouri game. Normal starting safety Jordan Lovett is not though.”

Tennessee coach Josh Heupel is 2-0 vs. Kentucky. The Vols beat the Wildcats 45-42 in Lexington in 2021, then 44-6 last season in Knoxville.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is 2-8 versus Tennessee. Stoops is 2-4 versus the Vols in the last six meetings.

Both teams are coming off losses. Before its bye week, Kentucky lost at home 38-21 to Missouri on Oct. 14. Tennessee lost 34-20 to Alabama last Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

The folks at Vols Wire have confidence in a Tennessee victory over Kentucky.

In the 2021 Kentucky-Tennessee game, Kentucky’s Izayah Cummings caught four passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Cummings has caught three passes since.

Kentucky kicker Alex Raynor has made all six of his field goal attempts this season. Three of those have been from 40-plus yards. Tennessee kicker Charles Campbell has made 11 of his 13 field goal tries. Campbell has made one of three attempts from 40 yards and beyond.

Saturday’s Kentucky-Tennessee football game is a ‘prove-it’ game for the Wildcats

How Kentucky football and No. 21 Tennessee match up — with a game prediction

Kentucky vs. Tennessee predictions: The keys to a rivalry win for the Wildcats

Kentucky football: Five things to know about the Tennessee Volunteers

Where to watch, how to follow Saturday’s Kentucky football game vs. No. 21 Tennessee

College football games on television and streaming for Saturday (Oct. 28)

Kentucky defense has bad memories of Tennessee, but is the challenge different this year?