LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Coach Rich Brooks thinks he can change history.
At least, he's hoping to reverse a historic trend that has plagued Kentucky team since Ronald Reagan was president.
The Wildcats (6-5, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) will end their regular season this Saturday with a trip to rival Tennessee (4-6, 2-5), a team they have lost to annually since 1984.
Simply known as "The Streak," the yearly whipping is the longest consecutive string of losses by one team to another in the nation. No player on the Kentucky roster was born when last the Wildcats triumphed. Four coaches have tried and failed to end the misery.
"The fact that Tennessee has had their way for 23 straight years doesn't make for much of a rivalry," Brooks said. "We need to do a better job on our end to getting the 'rivalry' back in the rivalry game."
History may not be on Brooks' side, but he can find solace in the fact that Kentucky has come close to snapping the hex in the last two encounters, with the Volunteers winning by five points in 2006 and just two points in four overtimes last year.
Kentucky will also be bolstered in knowing they will face the worst Tennessee team in recent memory. Still, that may not be enough.
"They're a physical team and they have a lot of talent," said linebacker Micah Johnson. "I think their record skews what people think of them. They can come out and compete with everybody. I think it will be a hard hat-type game, a real physical game."
Despite placing near the bottom of the SEC in total offense, Tennessee is second in the SEC in defense. They have held six teams this season to two touchdowns or less and are third in the conference against the pass.
Kentucky has had problems on defense in their last two games, giving up major rushing and passing yards, and continues to be hampered by a lethargic offense. The Wildcats have also struggled to take off at the start of games, trailing by a touchdown or more heading into the second quarter in their last five games. Brooks said it will be critical for his team to get on the board early.
"It's evident that they're a talented a team and we have to come out hot, we can't come out flat," Johnson said.
The Wildcats will also be facing the emotion of Phil Fulmer's last game as Tennessee's 17-year head coach. Running back Alfonso Smith said he expects a passionate effort by the Volunteer players in support of their outgoing coach.
"It seems like they're playing for pride right now," Smith said "They don't want to get whipped by Vanderbilt and get beat by Kentucky. It's a pride thing. They don't want to be that team known as ending the streak."
Kentucky's spread offense will be led by true freshman Randall Cobb. A native of Alcoa, Tenn., near Knoxville, his teammates say Cobb has been energized to play the team that tried to recruit him for days.
"I think he's ready for this game, I can see it in his eyes in practice," Smith said. "He's focused. I think he'll react pretty well and he'll take over the game."
A Tennessee native leading the Wildcats might be the perfect antidote to cure the streak that has plagued Kentucky. Still, history is hard to change.
"This will be a real challenge for us to go into Knoxville in Fulmer's last game and pull out a win," Brooks said. "Streaks usually all end at some point and it would be a nice thing to end this streak."
Kentucky will hope to strengthen its postseason outlook with a win. The Wildcats' potential bowl invitations include everything from the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
The Wildcats will have to end the streak without safety Marcus McClinton. Defensive end Jeremy Jarmon and defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin are doubtful with injuries.
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