4. Whose running backs gain more yards on the ground?
Forget about overall rush offense. Kentucky allows so many sacks, which counts against your run game in college, that Tennessee football should win that battle. We’ll get to that in a minute. However, offense specifically by the running backs is what’s going to be crucial in this game.
The Vols and Wildcats are almost evenly matched there, especially with Chris Rodriguez Jr. back. Specifically, is you take every Kentucky running back to have a carry this year and combine their stats, they have 885 total rushing yards and are averaging 4.76 yards per carry.
On the other side, the Vols running backs have gained over 1,000 yards on the ground but are averaging just 4.6 yards a carry. Hendon Hooker’s success and Will Levis’ constantly being sacked is what skews the rushing totals toward UT in a huge way. Still, as a team, the Vols are No. 50 in rush yards per attempt, and Kentucky is No. 58 in rush yards allowed per attempt.
As a result, this gets neutralized when you take the pass rush out of it. Now, a wildcard is how elite Tennessee football’s rush defense is, giving up fewer than three yards a carry and ranked No. 8. However, again, this is a different team. The play of the running backs and how they run behind their blockers will be huge.