By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Western Kentucky coach Bobby Petrino has had plenty of success at the expense of the Southeastern Conference.
Now he wants more.
Petrino went 34-17 at Arkansas from 2008-11. He got fired in April 2012 for misleading school officials about a motorcycle accident that eventually revealed his mistress was a passenger and employed by the coach. After a year away from coaching, Petrino is back.
Western Kentucky beat SEC program Kentucky 35-26 in Petrino's first game. The Hilltoppers will try to do it again Saturday when Western Kentucky visits Tennessee.
"It'd be great for our program," Petrino said. "Any time you get to go out and compete against one of the best conferences in the country and excel and do well, it helps you in recruiting."
The last time Western Kentucky traveled to Neyland Stadium, the Hilltoppers didn't compete much at all. Tennessee whipped Western Kentucky 63-7 to open a 2009 season in which the Hilltoppers proceeded to go winless.
Western Kentucky has come a long way since. The Hilltoppers went 7-6 and earned their first bowl bid last year under former coach Willie Taggart, who was hired away by USF.
"That was actually my first college game," Western Kentucky fifth-year senior linebacker Chuck Franks said about the Hilltoppers' last trip to Knoxville. "Of course, (there are) a lot better players here now. We had great coaches along the way who helped build the program to where it is now. Now we just have to go down there and play ball. We know we can play with these guys. We've just got to go down there and leave it all on the field."
Western Kentucky isn't the only team seeking redemption. Tennessee also is eager to make amends for what happened the last time it faced a Petrino-coached team. Tennessee lost 49-7 at Arkansas in 2011.
"It was a long night," Tennessee running back Rajion Neal said. "That's a good coach, well respected. He's a great mind in the game, so you've got to come out with your antennas alert and ready to go."
Tennessee, a 13-point favorite, is coming off a 45-0 victory over Austin Peay in which it scored touchdowns on each of its six first-half possessions. The Volunteers believe they can run the ball effectively against a Western Kentucky defense that allowed Kentucky to rush for 6.8 yards per carry.
The Vols must avoid slipping up before visiting No. 2 Oregon and No. 10 Florida the next two weeks. They can't afford to overlook any team, particularly one coached by Petrino.
"They're a competitive football team," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "You can see it in the way they play the game. They have a great competitive spirit, great competitive character. So it's going to be a great challenge."
Here are five things to watch in Saturday's game between Western Kentucky and Tennessee.
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