First scout report: UK football’s bowl prospects

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Game day: Kentucky 52, Louisville 21

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A first look at Kentucky’s bowl prospects:

Projections

Ahead of the UK season finale with Louisville, the consensus among the main bowl projections was that the Wildcats were heading for a playoff game in Florida.

There are, however, a variety of opinions, including:

1. ESPN.com Analysts Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura disagreed over the Wildcats’ intended destination.

Schlabach had the Wildcats in the Outback Bowl in Tampa against Iowa.

Bonagura brought the Cats back to Jacksonville for the second year in a row for a Gator Bowl rematch last season with North Carolina State.

2. Paul Myerberg of USA Today projects the UK in the Outback Bowl against Wisconsin. It would be a rematch for the 1984 Hall of Fame Bowl in which Kentucky upset the 20-19 No.20 Badgers.

3. Richard Johnson of SI.com predicted a return of Kentucky to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando for the second time in four seasons (2018 being the other) for a clash with Michigan State.

4. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com also throws the UK into the Outback Bowl with Wisconsin as an enemy.

5. College football news has Kentucky in the Outback Bowl, but with Iowa – the varsity alma mater of British coach Mark Stoops – as their opponent.

Bowl dates and times

If Bowl analysts are correct that the UK is linked to Florida on any of the three Bowls mentioned above, here is the relevant planning information for each:

The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville is scheduled for New Years Eve at 11 a.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Outback Bowl in Tampa kicks off at noon on New Years Day and will air on ESPN2.

The VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando will air on ABC at 1 p.m. on New Years Day.

UK position in the SEC

Before the last Saturday of the 2021 college football regular season, the Southeastern Conference already had 11 eligible bowling teams. Florida’s victory over Florida State took that number 12, and LSU’s Saturday night victory over Texas A&M took it to 13.

At 5-3 in SEC games, Kentucky finished with the fourth-best league record behind Georgia (8-0), Alabama (7-1) and Ole Miss (6-2).

That’s why the Wildcats’ chances of winning a bowl game in Florida look good, especially after their rout from Louisville on Saturday night.

History of the bowl

The UK is 11-9 all-time in bowl games and won three games in a row.

Under Mark Stoops, the Wildcats are 3-2 in bowl games.

2016: Kentucky fell to Georgia Tech 33-18 in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

2017: Great Britain lost to Northwestern 24-23 at the Music City Bowl in Nashville.

2018: The No. 14 Wildcats beat the No. 12 Penn State 27-24 in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

CitrusBowl1.JPG
Kentucky players including Dorian Baker (2), CJ Conrad, Benny Snell, Josh Allen and Lonnie Johnson (6) celebrated after the No.14 Wildcats defeated No.12 Penn State 27-24 in the Citrus VRBO Bowl on January 1. 2019. Alex Slitz [email protected]

2019: Kentucky defeated Virginia Tech 37-30 in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte.

2020: The Cats upset North Carolina State 23-21 in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

Bowls’ sixth consecutive appearance this year for Kentucky will break the school’s record of five consecutive playoff games set from 2006-2010 under coaches Rich Brooks (2006-09) and Joker Phillips (2010).

This story was originally published November 27, 2021 11:03 pm.

Mark Story has worked in the sports department of the Lexington Herald-Leader since August 27, 1990 and has been a sports columnist for the Herald-Leader since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK- basketball. U of L. match but three since 1996-97 and each Kentucky Derby since 1994.
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Amanda J. Marsh