Tennessee did all it could do Saturday, but it probably wasn’t enough to land the Volunteers in the Southeastern Conference title game.
Cedric Houston ran for 87 yards and a touchdown, and No. 7 Tennessee used a dominating defense to hold Kentucky to 187 yards in a 20-7 victory.
With their 19th consecutive victory over Kentucky, the Volunteers (10-2, 6-2 SEC) clinched their 18th 10-victory season and a share of the SEC East division title with Georgia and Florida.
But under SEC’s final tiebreaker -- a combination of bowl championship series standings and head-to-head results -- it appears Georgia, a 34-17 winner over Georgia Tech on Saturday, likely will be the division representative in the league title game on Saturday against Louisiana State.
“It wasn’t easy, and it’s never easy when Tennessee and Kentucky play,” Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said. “Defensively, I thought we played really well in the ballgame. We’re glad to be 10-2 and we’re looking forward to whatever comes next.”
Kentucky (4-8, 1-7) led, 7-3, at halftime but had only five first downs in the second half in the final game of its first season under Coach Rich Brooks. Kentucky’s yardage output was its lowest of the season.
Four of Tennessee’s last five opponents have scored seven points or fewer.
Tennessee wasn’t an offensive juggernaut, as the Volunteers finished with 270 yards. But the offense turned in a 13-play, 66-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes to secure the victory on Houston’s 10-yard run with 1:27 left.
Kentucky capped a 14-play, 66-yard drive with a fourth-down, one-yard touchdown run by Arliss Beach with 2:24 left in the first quarter.
A blown call early in the second quarter kept Kentucky from possibly expanding its lead. Tennessee’s William Revill lost the ball while struggling for extra yards after catching a pass, and Kentucky’s Dustin Williams picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Tennessee three.
However, officials ruled that Revill didn’t fumble until after he was down. Replays showed Revill appeared to fumble while upright.
“Unbelievable,” Brooks said. “I didn’t get a good explanation [on the call]. They were not willing to talk about it. The officiating, in my opinion, has been very inconsistent.”
Lorenzen completed 17 of 39 passes for 121 yards. He finished his career with 862 completions, second-best in SEC history. Peyton Manning had 863 completions for Tennessee from 1994-97.