Tennessee’s No. 3 was back in action inside Neyland Stadium for the third straight week on Saturday night, taking on Kentucky’s No. 19 in front of another sold-out crowd and in front of a national prime-time audience. on ESPN.
For only the third time in the 118 total encounters between the two programs, UT and UK met as ranked opponents. With Tennessee’s 44-6 win on Saturday night, the Vols have won all three ranked games.
Here are five things to know about Saturday’s win:
1. The Nation’s #1 Offense
Just 87 seconds out of Saturday’s contest, Hendon Hooker and Jalin Hyatt connected for a 55-yard touchdown to continue their offensive tear. On his first reception of the night, Hyatt tied the school record for single-season receiving touchdowns and then claimed sole possession of the record with a 31-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The junior wide receiver improved his career total to 18 touchdowns to move into fifth place in program history.
Tennessee also maintained their efficiency on the field, scoring three total rushing touchdowns from Jaylen Wright, Princeton Fan and Hooker. Saturday marked the third straight game that Fant, a tight end, scored a rushing touchdown. Little Jabari led Tennessee in rushing with 78 yards, also carrying a 13-yard receiving touchdown for the game’s final score.
Tennessee came on Saturday leading the nation in both total offense and offense with an average of 50.1 points per game, but scored only seven points in the first quarter. However, Tennessee’s notoriously fast offense began to take shape early in the second quarter, scoring three touchdowns over the next 15 minutes. By the end of the night, the Vols had achieved their biggest margin of victory against an SEC-ranked team since 1990.
The Vols’ 44-point game marks the 11th straight time UT has scored 30 or more points since last season. The streak is currently the longest in school history and the longest active streak in the SEC.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Wildcats had held their opponents to 24 points or less in 11 straight games. The Vols had reached 27 points before the end of the first half.
2. Give them (just) six
The Vols defense started strong and didn’t give up until the end of the game. Kentucky went three times on their first possession, which set the tone for the rest of the night as the Vols ultimately held the Wildcats to 205 yards. The Cats scored just six points overall after Christopher Rodriguez ran into the end zone for six. Matt Ruffolo’s PAT was blocked by Tennessee Da’Jon Terry and picked up by Jeremy Banksand that was the end of the score for Kentucky.
Six runs for the opponent was the fewest total conceded by Tennessee against a Power 5 opponent since January 1, 2016 against Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. He also scored the lowest total for an SEC opponent since holding Mississippi State to three points on Oct. 18, 2008 in a 34-3 victory inside Neyland Stadium.
THE SHOT! THE CHOICE !
Tennessee feels it 😤 pic.twitter.com/WyGtAf9QP9
—ESPN (@espn) October 30, 2022
The Wildcats headed into Week 9 leading the SEC in most sacks allowed per game with 26 overall, and they left Neyland Stadium after allowing four more. Juwan Mitchell, Brandon Filming and Doneiko slaughter each made their first career interceptions. In addition to his first career interception, Mitchell also led Tennessee in tackles with eight total, including two solo. Tennessee recorded a season-high three interceptions, its most in an SEC game since 2019.
Cover: A+ 📚 pic.twitter.com/eskj8ElN2k
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 30, 2022
Kentucky quarterback and potential first-round pick Will Levis was limited to just 98 passing yards, the first time the Vols had held an opposing quarterback to within 100 yards since Nov. 9 2019. He also scored the lowest total assists allowed. in the Josh Heupel time.
3. Himdon Hooker
Hendon Hooker recorded another very strong performance against the Kentucky Wildcats. In 2021, Hooker threw a career-high four touchdown passes in the 45-42 win. In this year’s meeting, Hooker completed 19 of 25 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns.
Additionally, the Vols quarterback moved to seventh in the UT record books for total yards with 6,237 in 21 games.
With Hooker’s 55-yard throw to Hyatt for Tennessee’s first score of the night, the redshirt senior extended his program record to 20 straight games with a touchdown pass.
Hendon Hooker at Jalin Hyatt maybe just the best connection in CFB right now🔥
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 29, 2022
The quarterback’s offensive efficiency also extended to the ground, as he raced to the checkers for an eight-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. It was the eighth time in Hooker’s career at Tennessee that he rushed for a touchdown and passed for a touchdown in the same game.
The volunteer flagger also topped 10,000 total rushing yards for his college career, holding 10,164 total. His Tennessee numbers are complemented by the 3,927 rushing yards he racked up at Virginia Tech.
4. I can’t cover them all
wide receiver Cedric Tillman was the Vols’ biggest receiving threat in the 2021 season. Leading the Big Orange in scoring with 12 touchdowns, the redshirt senior also led the Vols in receiving with a total of 62 receptions for 1,081 yards. He made his much-anticipated return from injury against the UK, making four catches in the game.
With his return, the Vols have a large, deep and talented reception hall with myriad strengths and ways to open up. Jalin Hyatt sets slot machine records across just eight action games. Bru McCoythe talented physical transfer from USC, has been a force on the outside and caught 30 passes for 451 yards this season. Ramel Keyton stepped up big in Tillman’s absence, seemingly doing acrobatic catches every time the ball came his way.
Jalin Hyatt in its last six quarters:
CHEAT CODE 🤯 pic.twitter.com/DWvmhB1SQK
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 22, 2022
A total of eight pass catchers have found the end zone this season and five receivers, who have had 10 or more catches, are averaging more than 12.5 yards per reception. Coupled with the stellar play in Hooker’s Pocket, the Volunteers pull out a variety of weapons and are reloaded and reloaded with the return of Number 4.
5. Rockin’ on Rocky Top
Tennessee picked up its fifth ranked win of the season on Saturday night. He entered the day tied with TCU for the national lead and finished the evening in sole possession of the accolade. The Vols now have six ranked wins under the Heupel era, including two against Kentucky.
Home fans at Neyland Stadium have witnessed three such matches this season and the energy around Knoxville has been palpable, with Saturday night’s game marking the fifth consecutive sold-out game at home. This streak is the longest selling period since 2007.
The Volunteers are also going 8-0 for the first time since 1998, when Tennessee finished the year undefeated and won a national championship.
Getting into the Halloween spirit, for the very first time, the Vols crossed the T’s wearing black helmets to go with their “Dark Mode” alternate uniforms, which debuted a season ago. A pre-game of epic proportions included a special light show, a version of Rocky Top that made the rounds on social media throughout the week blared through the speakers as the flashlights of 101,915 phones lit up the football cathedral by the river.
– 𝙹𝙰𝙾 (@draft_alex) October 30, 2022
Later, as the band Pride of the Southland performed the Star Spangled Banner, two hometown heroes, Lt. Col. Jonathan Hassell and 2004 UT grad Lt. Col. Brad Matherne, flew their F -35 Lightnings above the pitch when the final note hit, livening up the crowd. for an exciting night of football.
— Reece Van Haaften (@Reece_VH) October 29, 2022
Heading into Week 10, the Big Orange will take on the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (8-0) in Athens, Georgia. Both teams will enter Sanford Stadium undefeated and all eyes will once again be on Tennessee football. ESPN College GameDay has selected the game to feature on the morning show, the third time this season the Robberies will be featured prominently on the show. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
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