LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This is one of those games that is usually played on the first weekend of the season. Or perhaps the second or third.
But not Game 11.
As conference play percolates around them, coach Mark Stoops and the Kentucky Wildcats will play their third and final non-conference buy-game by welcoming Tennessee-Martin of the Ohio Valley Conference to Kroger Field.
Kentucky improved to 5-5 with a victory at Vanderbilt last Saturday. UTM moved to 7-4 by defeating Tennessee State.
The Wildcats won their first two buy games against Toledo and Eastern Michigan. UTM lost at Florida 45-0 on Sept. 7.
Last season, the Skyhawks were beaten by Missouri, 51-14. In 2017, they fell to Ole Miss, 45-23. In 2016, they lost to Cincinnati, 28-7. You get the picture.
1. Time: 3:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, Kroger Field, Lexington.
2. Where to watch: SEC Network (611 DirecTV; 516 Spectrum; 404 Dish Network; 607 ATT U-verse). Dave Neal, play-by-play; D.J. Shockley, analyst; Dawn Davenport, sidelines.
3. Line: Kentucky by 29 1/2; over/under 43 1/2.
4. Scouting Tennessee-Martin: The Skyhawks are an FBS program that sit in third place in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 6-2 league mark. They beat Eastern Kentucky, 38-28, but lost to Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri, the two OVC frontrunners. They were also beaten by Florida, 45-0, on the second weekend of the season.
UTM is 1-27 all-time against FBS opponents. Its only victory was against Memphis in 2012. Under head coach Jason Simpson, the Skyhawks are 0-10 against SEC opponents.
UTM has received solid play from redshirt freshman quarterback John Bachus III, who has been named OVC newcomer of the week four times. Bachus has completed 171 of 302 passes for nearly 2,400 yards and 18 touchdowns. At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 209 pounds, Bachus is more passer than runner. According to 247Sports, he was a 2-star recruit at Giles County (Tenn.) High School.
5. Scouting Kentucky: The Wildcats delivered one of their strongest performances of the season, rolling past Vanderbilt, 38-14, in Nashville last Saturday. UK ran for a season-high 401 yards while limiting the Commodores to 198 rushing and passing.
Most of the talk around Stoops’ team this season has centered on the change UK had to make developing Lynn Bowden Jr. as the starting quarterback after Terry Wilson and Sawyer Smith were injured. But Kentucky’s defense has filled many of the holes created by the loss of top players from the 2018 team. UK has limited its last five opponents to 305 yards or less. Georgia, Missouri and Vanderbilt all averaged less than 5 yards per play against Kentucky, which ranks seventh in the SEC, ahead of Tennessee and top-ranked LSU, in total defense.
6. Spotlight Player: Nick Petrino is not a player, but the former University of Louisville assistant coach and Trinity High School quarterback is the quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator for the Skyhawks. UTM ranks eighth in the nine-team OVC in total offense and sixth in passing offense.
7. Sideline Storyline: There aren’t many storylines after you have finished the Southeastern Conference portion of your schedule, and your rivalry game with Louisville is a week away. Kentucky can secure bowl eligibility by defeating the Skyhawks. The best scenario would be secure a comfortable lead by halftime that would enable Stoops to sit his starters to avoid injury in advance of the Governor’s Cup.
It might be worth noting that on T along with Mike Norvell of Memphis and Matt Campbell of Iowa State, as the three most likely candidates to replace the fired Willie Taggart at Florida State. Evidently, the Seminoles are intent on hiring somebody whose first name begins with "M."
8. Fan tip: Former UK star and NFL tight end Jacob Tamme will be the team’s honorary captain. The game is also Youth Sports and Activities Day. Youth athletes or youth club members can purchase specially designated tickets for $10 with family and friend tickets priced at $20.
10. Picks: Eric Crawford: Kentucky 31, UTM 10; Rick Bozich: UK 31, UTM 10.
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