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Saturday, November 24, 2012
Vols' offense secures first SEC win

By David Helman

Tennessee 37, Kentucky 17: This won't be a season anyone in Tennessee wants to remember, but at least it won't go down as the worst in history. The Volunteers have never gone winless in the SEC, and they avoided that fate Saturday afternoon with a drubbing of fellow SEC East doormat Kentucky. The loss dropped the Wildcats to their first winless conference campaign since 2000.

The Volunteers leaned on perhaps their lone bright spot from 2012 -- their SEC-best passing game -- en route to their most convincing win since Sept. 22. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray threw at will to the tune of 293 yards and four touchdowns on 20-of-34 passing. Bray and junior receiver Justin Hunter picked on the Wildcats in the first half, as they connected three times for 65 yards and a touchdown before halftime.

Bray set his sights on junior receiver Cordarrelle Patterson coming out of the locker room. Patterson abused the Kentucky secondary for 88 yards and a touchdown on four catches, with the bulk of that production coming in the second half.

Just as it's no surprise to see the Volunteers' offense put up points, it was hardly a shock to see Tennessee's league-worst defense allow the Wildcats to hang around. Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow completed 29 of 45 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown, as he led the Wildcats on scoring drives of 75, 73 and 63.

In a game with no turnovers, the Volunteers' defense did just enough to seize momentum. Tennessee stoned the Wildcats on a crucial fourth down late in the second quarter as Kentucky drove to take a potential lead before halftime. The Volunteers forced another turnover on downs on a fourth-and-short in the fourth quarter, killing any slim hopes of a Wildcats rally.

It wasn't a dull affair, even with the lousy records involved. The teams combined for a gaudy 46 first downs and 869 total yards.