UK to play in Music City Bowl for second consecutive year

When the UK football team defeated Clemson 28-20 last year in the Music City Bowl, it ended a streak of six years without an appearance in a bowl game. After getting a taste of postseason play last winter, the Cats were in no hurry to start a new bowl-less streak.

For the second consecutive season and third time in school history, the Cats will be heading to the Music City Bowl in Nashville. UK (7-5, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) is slated to take on Florida State (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) and legendary head coach Bobby Bowden on Dec. 31 at 4 p.m. at LP Field, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The game will be televised live on ESPN.

“We’re obviously excited about the opportunity to have a bowl game, to play a quality opponent such as Florida State,” head coach Rich Brooks said. “We know that this will be a very difficult game. They have great speed, they have tremendous athletic ability, and they have great tradition.”

The bowl selection late yesterday afternoon marks just the fourth time in school history the Cats have been selected for back-to-back bowl games and the 12th bowl game in school history.

Meanwhile, this is the 26th consecutive season that Bowden has led Florida State to a bowl game. Under Bowden, the Seminoles have won two national championships, in 1993 and 1999.

Although the Seminoles did not achieve the success this year that they have been used to during the Bowden regime, they have won three of their last five games, including an upset over then-No. 2 Boston College.

“He’s a legend,” senior quarterback Andre Woodson said of facing Bowden. “He’s a coach who has obviously done wonders for that program, turning everything around and winning national titles. He’s obviously going to be recognized as one of the best coaches to ever live.”

The Cats will be playing in their first bowl game on New Year’s Eve since a 21-0 victory over North Carolina in the 1976 Peach Bowl.

In anticipation of the game, fans had already snatched up   all available tickets by yesterday’s 6:30 p.m. news conference, making it the second sellout in the bowl’s 10-year history. The only other sellout came during UK’s 28-20 victory over Clemson last season.

“We are honored to be selected to participate in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl for 2007,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “Our experience in bringing 50,000 people to Nashville for the 2006 game brings back great memories, and this year is a new opportunity for our fans to enjoy Kentucky football in the postseason.”

The official bowl allotment for each team is 11,000 tickets. UK requested an additional 16,000 tickets to bring the total to 27,000, but they were all sold during the pre-sale to UK season-ticket holders. Immediately following the bowl’s selections, the remaining tickets were purchased through the bowl’s Web site, according to UK Athletics spokesman Tony Neely.

“It’s a blessing to have some of the fans that we have,” senior wide receiver Keenan Burton said. “They have been through everything with us.”

“The fact that they’ll be able to come and support us like they did last year and to find out the game is already sold out is special,” he added.

UK a finalist for Game Changing Performance

Senior quarterback Andre Woodson’s game-winning touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Steve Johnson in a victory over then-No. 1 Louisiana State is one of 13 finalists for the Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the Year.

Woodson’s 7-yard touchdown toss to Johnson completed a stunning victory over the top-ranked Tigers in triple overtime. The loss gave LSU — which will play against Ohio State in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game on Jan. 7 in New Orleans — its first loss of the season.

The winning school, which will be announced during the national title game on FOX, will receive a $100,000 scholarship contribution. Fans can determine which school receives the ultimate prize by voting on Pontiac’s Web site (