LEXINGTON, Ky. – Lynn Bowden Jr., a receiver turned quarterback, has mostly assumed the role of runner for Kentucky, which meets visiting Tennessee on Saturday in an SEC game. The junior has rushed for 499 of his team-leading 598 yards in the last three games for the Wildcats, who will try to overcome an ugly history that has seen them lose 32 of the last 34 games to the Volunteers.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Tennessee -1
Bowden started the year as a receiver, catching 30 passes for 348 yards, including a 129-yard game against Mississippi State, but an injury to starting quarterback Terry Wilson and ineffective play by Sawyer Smith forced him under center. The former high school quarterback has struggled throwing the ball, completing 40.5 percent of his passes but has excelled as a runner, highlighted by a 204-yard game in a 29-7 victory over Missouri on Oct. 26. "Lynn is a guy that handles things so well physically, but playing quarterback, mentally, it's very taxing on him," coach Mark Stoops told the media. " He's done a lot. He's taken a lot of hits, so I think (the bye) was good for Lynn." The Volunteers have started three quarterbacks, including J.T Shrout in a win over Alabama-Birmingham, but junior Jarrett Guarantano has thrown the majority of the passes and has 11 of the team's 14 touchdown throws.
ABOUT TENNESSEE (4-5, 2-3 SEC)
Bryce Thompson demonstrated last season that he was one of the top freshman in the nation by earning All-American honors and the cornerback hasn’t let up as a sophomore in spearheading the Tennessee defense. Against UAB, the South Carolina native tied a school record with three interceptions, the most by a Volunteer since 1999, and was part of a unit that held the Blazers to 237 yards of offense. Jeremy Pruitt’s defense, which has gotten stellar play from Daniel Bituli, Warren Burrell, Darrell Taylor and Henry To’o To’o, limited Kentucky to 77 rushing yards in a 24-7 victory last season at home and has been stout the last two games, holding UAB and South Carolina to 2.6 yards per carry.
ABOUT KENTUCKY (4-4, 2-4 SEC)
Bowden has made some unique history in two recent games for the Wildcats. Against South Carolina, he joined Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage as the only FBS players since 2000 to have at least six rushing attempts, three receptions, three kickoff returns and two pass completions in the same game. A week later against Arkansas, he had at least 20 rush attempts, 10 pass attempts and a punt return in the same game to become the third FBS player since 2000 to do so along with Kent State’s Julian Edelman and Indiana’s Antwaan Randle-El. All told, Bowden leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally in all-purpose yards per game (149.9).
1. Bowden’s eight yards per rushing attempt would shatter the single season school record of 7.1 yards set by Stanley Williams in 2015.
2. Tennessee K Brent Cimaglia, who booted a 53-yarder against UAB, leads the SEC in field goals made (18) and field goal percentage (90 percent).
3. This will mark the 115th game between the Volunteers and the Wildcats, making it the third most-played series in the SEC behind Auburn-Georgia and Mississippi-Mississippi State. Tennessee leads the series 80-25-9.
PREDICTION: Tennessee 27, Kentucky 23