Cats prepare for bowl game, face many possible projections


Quarterback Stephen Johnson #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats looks to pass during the second half of the TaxSlayer Bowl against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at EverBank Field on Saturday, December 31, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

In late December, UK fans are usually treated with a good non-conference basketball game, but for the second year in a row, they’ll also be preparing for a bowl game.

At the moment, no one knows where the Cats will be heading. There are many bowl games the Cats qualify for, and each bowl game is a possible destination depending on how the season finishes out.

Fans won’t know for sure until mid-late November, but here are the possible destinations UK Football could be heading to for their bowl game:

Music City Bowl

This game seems like a likely destination for the Cats, as it’s close to Lexington and it ranks about where the Cats rank in the SEC.

However, there is one major issue with this game. It kicks-off just three and a half hours after the UK versus Louisville men’s basketball game. 

Mitch Barnhart will likely do what he can to make sure the Cats play a bowl game that doesn’t overlap with the anticipated basketball game, but if the Cats don’t do anything to improve in the SEC projections, the fans might be forced to choose between football and basketball.

The Cats have played in four Music City Bowl’s, with the most recent being in 2007, when they defeated Florida State.

Belk Bowl

This bowl also conflicts with UK’s basketball schedule, as it kicks-off at the same time as tipoff for UK versus Louisville. However, along with the Music City Bowl, this game matches up with UK’s projected rank among the SEC.

The game would be played in the Carolina Panthers’ stadium, and they would play a good ACC opponent. The Cats haven’t played in a Belk Bowl in program history. 

Outback Bowl

If the Cats can improve among the SEC ranks, this game would be at the top of UK’s choice for a bowl game, as it’s one of the top bowl games an SEC school can get into.

Florida represented the SEC in the Outback Bowl last year, where they routed the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Cats have been to one Outback Bowl in the past, where they lost to Penn State in 1999.

Liberty Bowl

This is another good bowl game if the Cats can improve among the SEC ranks, and it’s played in Memphis, Tennessee, which gives the Cats a bigger shot of being selected to this game due to UK’s traveling fanbase.

The Cats previously went to the Liberty Bowl in 2009, when they defeated East Carolina. 

Taxslayer Bowl

Don’t forget about the Taxslayer Bowl, as it’s still a possibility UK could return to this game for the second straight year. However, the fact that they played in this game last year makes their chances of being selected to the Taxslayer Bowl smaller than other SEC schools.

Barnhart would likely prefer this game over the Music City and Belk Bowls, as it’s played the day after UK’s game against Louisville. If Barnhart got to choose, this game would likely be at the top of his preferences along with the Outback and Liberty Bowls.

The projections between now and when the bowl game announcements come out will certainly change between now and then, so follow the Kernel on twitter @KYKernelSports and @chrisleachKYK for the latest updates.