FB PREVIEW: Border Battle Set as #3 Vols Host #19 Kentucky in Primetime Clash

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – After concluding non-conference play with an emphatic 65-24 Homecoming victory over UT Martin last week, No. 3/3 Tennessee jumps back into conference play to begin its stretch run with a top-20 matchup against #19/17 Kentucky on Saturday night inside a sold-out Neyland Stadium.

The Vols will look to record their fifth win over a ranked opponent this season when the Wildcats come to town for Saturday’s border battle under the lights. UT will be rocking its “Dark Mode” uniforms for the game, which will feature a black helmet for the first time in program history.

The matchup will pit the SEC’s top scoring offense and second-ranked scoring defense against one another. Tennessee enters the game having scored 30 or more points in 10 straight games (longest active streak in the SEC)  while Kentucky hasn’t allowed more than 24 points in 11 consecutive games (longest active streak in the FBS).


Saturday’s contest will be televised on ESPN as Chris Fowler (PxP), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline) will have the call. Kickoff is slated for 7:06 p.m. ET.

Fans can listen to Tennessee’s official radio broadcast on the Vol Network (Local: WIVK-FM 107.7/WNML-FM 99.1) over 64 stations across the state of Tennessee and the southeast, SiriusXM (Ch. 81) and the SiriusXM app (Ch. 983), as well as the Varsity App. A live audio stream of the broadcast will also be available on UTSports.com​ and the Tennessee Athletics App.

Bob Kesling (PxP), Pat Ryan (analyst) and Brent Hubbs (analyst) will call the action for the Vol Network radio broadcast. The Big Orange Countdown pregame show begins at 5 p.m. ET.


For the most up-to-date information on Tennessee’s 2022 gameday policies, please visit the Tennessee Football Gameday Information page on UTSports.com. The gameday timeline as well as other important information is listed below.

Will Call Opens at Gate 21 – 3 p.m.
Truly’s Tailgate Opens – 3 p.m.
Vol Village Opens – 3:30 p.m.
Vol Walk – 4:45 p.m.
Gates Open – 5 p.m.
Pride of the Southland Band March – 5:20 p.m. (Pedestrian Bridge)
Pregame Light Show* – 6:40 p.m.
*Light Sensitivity Warning: Strobe lights will be in effect
Pride of the Southland Band Pregame Performance Begins – 6:52 p.m.
National Anthem/Flyover – 6:55 p.m.
ESPN Broadcast Begins –  7:00 p.m.
Vols Run Through the T – 7:03 p.m.
Kickoff – 7:06 p.m.


Tickets and parking passes to all Tennessee Athletics events, including football, are now digital and can be accessed through a mobile device to improve security and reduce the risk of ticket fraud as well as make the process more convenient for fans.

Fans will gain admission into Neyland Stadium via a unique QR code which will be scanned directly from a mobile device. For quick and easy entry into Tennessee Athletics venues, fans are encouraged to download the Tennessee Athletics app from the App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android).

Your mobile device is the ticket on gameday. All valid digital tickets will display a moving barcode or a hold near reader (tap-and-go) icon. PLEASE NOTE: SCREENSHOTS OF TICKETS WILL NOT SCAN AT THE GATE AND WILL NOT ALLOW ENTRY!

Printed PDF tickets will no longer be issued or accepted for entry at any Tennessee Athletics venue.

The only authorized sources for tickets to Tennessee Athletics events are the Tennessee Athletics Ticket Office, AllVols.com, the venue box office where the athletic event is taking place and Ticketmaster.

A complete step-by-step guide on how to best access and use your digital tickets and parking passes, including diagrams and FAQ is available here.


Fans are encouraged to download the Tennessee Athletics app, which now houses the Coca-Cola GBO Zone, allowing fans to play trivia, take part in a light show and much more. Search “Tennessee Athletics” in the Apple or Google Play Store or use this link to download: http://utsports.com/app


Neyland Stadium Fan Experience Enhancements
Fans can enjoy several enhancements to the gameday experience at Neyland Stadium, Shields-Watkins Field this fall, including new state-of-the-art videoboards above both end zones and the North End Zone Social Deck, among others.

For more information on all of the new stadium and gameday fan experience enhancements, click HERE.

Neyland Lights, Fireworks: The spectacular fireworks show that debuted last season during pregame and following UT touchdowns and victories returns in 2022. The dramatic LED light show is also back to accentuate pregame and in-game festivities. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats early on Saturday night for the pregame light show that will begin at 6:40 p.m. Fans with light sensitivity should note that strobe lights will be in effect for all light shows performed in Neyland Stadium.

Toyota Volunteer Village: Toyota Volunteer Village, located across from Circle Park, serves as the ideal spot to view the Vol Walk and the Pride of Southland Band march. Admission is free to all fans with or without a game ticket. Vol Village opens at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Vol Village will highlight a new artist or band each home game with a pregame concert series, providing Vol fans with the ultimate pregame atmosphere. Josiah and the Greater Good will be the featured band for this Saturday’s game.

New this season will be a video wall for fans to check out other games around college football. A new food court, along with appearances by Smokey and the Spirit Squad are also new to Vol Village this season. Face painting and axe throwing will be available on Saturday, as well.

Truly’s Tailgate: Located outside Gate 9, fans can stop by for food and drinks at Truly’s Tailgate. Fans may enter Truly’s prior to gates opening without having a ticket scanned. When gates open, fans will need to scan their ticket to enter Truly’s. New food options this season include Texas Roadhouse and Big Orange Bites.

Truly’s will open at 3 p.m. on Saturday and remain open for the majority of the game, giving fans in the south concourse a variety of food, drinks, television entertainment and additional restroom options. Truly’s will close at the end of the third quarter.

For complete gameday information, visit UTsports.com/gameday.


Another Week, Another Ranked Showdown
Saturday night’s primetime showdown against No. 19/17 Kentucky will mark the fifth time in eight games that the Vols will face a top-25 opponent. By taking down then No. 3/1 Alabama two weeks ago, Tennessee recorded its fourth victory over a ranked opponent this season. UT and TCU are the only FBS programs this season with four victories over AP Top 25 ranked teams at the time of meeting. It’s the first time since 1998 that the Vols have defeated four or more ranked teams in a regular season and first time since 2001 if you include bowl game victories. Head coach Josh Heupel is 5-4 against ranked teams in his two seasons leading the Big Orange.
Hyatt Flying High 
Jalin Hyatt has elevated his game to new heights this season, entering Saturday’s contest ranked among the SEC and national leaders in a handful of receiving categories after three consecutive impressive performances. The South Carolina native is one receiving touchdown shy of tying the Tennessee single season record and leads the FBS with 12 touchdown catches this season after three straight multi-scores games. Hyatt is the first UT receiver to record multiple touchdown receptions in three straight games since Marcus Nash in 1997 and also ranks fifth nationally in receiving yards per game (109.9).

The junior wideout has been a big play machine this season, leading the country with nine 30-plus yard receiving played, eight 40-plus yard receiving plays and three 60-plus yard receiving plays. Hyatt is coming off a seven-catch, 174-yard, two-touchdown outing in the first half against UT Martin following a legendary performance in UT’s win over Alabama on Oct. 15 where he recorded six catches for a career high 207 yards and five touchdowns.

Fast, Fun, Real
In the last two seasons combined under head coach Josh Heupel (including 2022), Tennessee is averaging a nation-best 2.92 plays per minute. During that same span, the Vols are averaging a nation-best 1.74 offensive points per minute. Ohio State is second in that category at 1.57. This season alone, the Vols are first in the nation in offensive points per minute (1.87) and sixth in offensive plays per minute (2.84).

Of UT’s 56 scoring drives this season, 31 have come in two minutes or less (55.4 percent). From 2018-20, Heupel’s UCF teams averaged a nation-high 3.04 plays per minute. Since the start of the 2018 season, Heupel-coached teams lead the nation in offensive plays per minute (2.99, min. – multiple seasons coached), offensive points per minute (1.68, min. – multiple seasons coached) and offensive plays per game (77.87, min – multiple seasons coached).

Ball Hawking, Aggressive Defense Paying Dividends
The Vols’ defense under coordinator Tim Banks has been aggressive and opportunistic all year long, forcing 13 turnovers through seven games, which ranks tied for second most in the SEC. For comparison, UT had just 13 takeaways in 13 games last season. The Big Orange also rank fourth in the league in tackles for loss per game (6.29) and sacks per game (2.43).


Tennessee leads series, 82-26-9
Saturday’s meeting between the Vols and Wildcats will be the 118th in the all-time series. Tennessee has played and beaten Kentucky more than any other opponent in program history.

The Big Orange are 34-3 against the Cats since 1985, but UK has come away victorious in two of the previous five meetings, including the last time the two programs faced off inside Neyland Stadium in 2020. UT emerged with a hard-fought 45-42 victory over No. 18 Kentucky in Lexington last season.


Kentucky is led by Mark Stoops, who is in the midst of his 10th season as head coach and has built the Wildcats into one of the league’s most consistent programs during his tenure in Lexington. Stoops has led UK to 10-plus wins in two of the past four years and has the Cats ranked inside the top 20 entering this weekend’s matchup.

Dynamic senior signal caller Will Levis leads the Wildcats’ offense. His combination of athleticism, arm strength and improved accuracy have him among the top NFL draft prospects at the quarterback position this year. In six games played, Levis is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 1,635 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. Levis has a talented trio of wide receivers to distribute the ball to in Tayvion Robinson (25 rec., 392 yds, 3 TDs), Barion Brown (24 rec., 350 yds, 2 TDs) and Dane Key (20 rec., 322 yds, 3 TDs). Brown is also a dangerous return man who is a valuable weapon on special teams.

To compliment the passing attack, the Wildcats boast one of the SEC’s top running backs in senior Chris Rodriguez Jr. After missing the first four games of the season, Rodriguez has provided a jolt to UK’s ground game with 72 carries for 395 yards (5.5 avg) and three scores, averaging 131.7 yards per contest over the Cats’ last three games.

Kentucky also features one of the conference’s top defenses, something that has become a staple under Stoops’ during his time as head coach. The Wildcats rank second in the league in scoring defense (16.4 points per game) and total defense (295.4 yards per game) entering Saturday’s game.

Vols Football Forum