Tennessee vs Kentucky Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Leary Has a Weary Passing Total

An SEC showdown features the Vols traveling to Lexington on Saturday to face off against a Wildcats program that has lost two straight. Find out why we're fading the Wildcats' struggling passing attack by reading our Tennessee vs. Kentucky betting picks.

Oct 28, 2023 • 15:53 ET • 4 min read

A pair of rivals seek bowl eligibility and bragging rights on Saturday when the Tennessee Volunteers travel up the I-75 for a showdown with the Kentucky Wildcats. 

Tennessee suffered a 14-point loss on the “third Saturday in October” when it fell to Alabama last weekend, ending a three-game win streak. Now the Vols seek to get back on track against a foe that has defeated them just three times since 1984. 

For the Wildcats, a 5-0 start has been followed by a pair of defeats, including a collapse at home against Missouri. Head coach Mark Stoops is hearing it from his fanbase, who are expecting him to improve on his poor record coming off a bye week and put the season back on track.

Let’s dive into our college football picks and predictions for Tennessee vs. Kentucky and help you dig through the college football odds to find the best bang for your buck. 

Tennessee vs Kentucky best odds

Tennessee vs Kentucky picks and predictions

There was plenty of buzz surrounding the Kentucky offense heading into this season. The return of offensive coordinator Liam Coen after a year in the NFL with the Rams was met with excitement, as was the decision of a few key freshman receivers to stay in Lexington versus heading for greener pastures — and perhaps some more greenbacks. 

Adding to the anticipation was the addition of Devin Leary. The former NC State quarterback was viewed as one of the top options in the transfer portal, and many felt he would provide the Wildcats with a strong arm, leadership, and experience.

But things haven’t quite gone to plan so far this year. Leary had some decent performances in the non-conference schedule, but things have gone south since SEC play began. 

Leary’s best game so far in conference play came against Vanderbilt when he threw for 205 yards and completed 15 of his 29 attempts. It’s also one of just two games in his four SEC starts where he’s completed at least half of his passing attempts.

Part of that is Leary making errant tosses and some very ill-advised throws, Kentucky also ranks among the nation’s leaders in dropped passes this season. With three returning key players, the receiving corps was supposed to be a strength but instead has been a glaring weakness.

Now Leary and the Wildcats return to the field after a week off, and many hope that will have provided some time for the offense to work out some of their issues. But even so, Leary’s passing total of 207.5 yards feels way too high. 

Kentucky’s second-half collapse against Missouri in a 17-point defeat left many fans scratching their heads. There were questions as to why Leary threw the ball 27 times, while Ray Davis — who averaged 6.4 yards per carry on the day — carried the ball just 20 times. Leary also made two very poor throws that were picked off.

As such, I’m expecting the Wildcats to be a bit more focused on running the ball against Tennessee. Davis should be aided by some wide receiver sweeps, something Kentucky has shown this season but has gotten away from. It would also address some of the issues with drops while getting the ball into the hands of playmakers like Tavion Robinson.

Leary hasn’t shown that he can be trusted this season, and asking him to throw the ball a bunch against a Tennessee defense that ranks 19th in havoc is not optimal. 

Between what’s likely to be fewer attempts, the drop issues with the receivers, and a Volunteer defense that is holding opponents to under 192 passing yards per game, I’m not understanding why Leary’s passing total is over 200. He’s thrown for 130 yards or less in his last three SEC games; to think he’s suddenly going to fix things against Tennessee makes little sense. 

We’ll head to bet365 where they offer the best odds for Leary’s passing total. 

My best bet: Devin Leary Under 207.5 passing yards (-115 at bet365)

Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.

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Tennessee vs Kentucky same-game parlay

Devin Leary Under 207.5 passing yards (-115)

Ray Davis anytime touchdown (-175)

Joe Milton 200+ passing yards (-250)

In addition to our best bet, we have two other plays at bet365 for an SGP that is paying out better than +300. 

If Kentucky is going to win or cover in this game, Davis is going to have to be heavily involved. While the Vols rank 20th in yards allowed per rush and 25th in rushing yards against, they just allowed Alabama’s Jase McClellan to go for 115 yards and a score. Expect Davis to find the end zone at least once on Saturday.

On the flip side, Joe Milton threw for 271 yards against Alabama and has topped 200 yards passing in all but one of his seven games this season. Back Tennessee's QB to do so yet again.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Tennessee vs Kentucky spread and Over/Under analysis

The Wildcats opened up as 4.5-point underdogs at home, but the public quickly bet the line down as it settled at 3.5. If Kentucky were to cover, it would mark just the second time in the past eight seasons it has done so following a bye week.

The Vols are 6-4 against the spread in their last 10 but have covered in three of their last four. Kentucky failed to cover in two straight, but are 4-3 ATS this season. The Wildcats have also covered just twice in the last 10 meetings with Tennessee.

Kentucky will have to play a clean game to cover or possibly win outright. There’s also the need to factor in Tennessee’s physical game against Alabama on the road last week. If the Vols are banged up, a second straight road game could give the Wildcats an edge. 

As for the total, it was also bet down quickly after opening, with FanDuel seeing their number come down by three entire points. It’s been steadily sitting at 51.5 since Monday.

Three of Kentucky’s four SEC contests have eclipsed the 51.5 point mark, as have three of Tennessee’s last four games. That said, six of the Wildcats' last nine games at home have gone Under.

Tennessee vs Kentucky betting trend to know

Tennessee is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games against Kentucky. Find more college football betting trends for Tennessee vs Kentucky.

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Tennessee vs Kentucky game info

Location: Kroger Field, Lexington, KY
Date: Saturday, October 28, 2023
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. ET

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