Kentucky football has done everything to impress the college football landscape going unbeaten through six games and now everyone is in agreement the Wildcats will be playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl game.
There were some media outlets that had not solely bought into the UK hype last week, but after Kentucky whooped and embarrassed LSU 42-21 the respect has become united that Mark Stoops and his troops are legit contenders.
They will be put to the test this Saturday when they travel to Georiga to take on the No. 1 ranked Bulldogs. No one is expecting the Wildcats to beat the Dawgs given that they are a 22.5 point underdog to the respect must be very high if they are projected to appear on New Year’s Day something that doesn’t come often around the UK program.
The “New Year’s Six” bowl games consist of the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Peach, and Fiesta.
Kentucky football hasn’t been on the New Year Six schedule in 28 years
In fact, it’s so rare the last time we watch Kentucky on January 1 was way back in the 1993 Peach Bowl in Atlanta where they lost a heartbreaking 14-13 game to Clemson led by running back Moe Williams.
Those Big Blue Nation direhards who have endured some long, long seasons not even going to a bowl game would have to reach back to 1976 for the time before when they blanked North Carolina 21-0 in the Peach Bowl (this game was actually played on New Year’s Eve).
Before that, it was a trio of appearances back in the 1950s.
In 1950 it was the Orange Bowl with a 21-13 loss to Santa Clara; the following year they beat Oklahoma 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl and then in 1952 it was a 20-7 win over TCU in the Cotton Bowl.
But that’s then this is now.
Let’s see what people are saying.
Fiesta Bowl (Tempe Arizona)
We will kick it off with the lone bowl that Kentucky has not played in and that is and a trio of those who like the Wildcats in Tempe.
The Athletic has the Wildcats taking on Penn State (5-1)
Athlon Sports thinks it will also be the Nittany Lions.
The series is split 3-3 with Kentucky winning 27-24 back in 2019. This was the year the Mark Stoops won SEC Coach of the Year. Before that was 1999 and Hal Mumme and Joe Paterno squaring off with Penn State winning 26-14.
One-half of ESPN’s bowl projecting duo is Kyle Bonagura and he believes it could be a matchup of new fresh faces as the Cats will battle the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (6-0). It would be the first meeting of the schools.
Sugar Bowl (New Orleans)
Yahoo Sports and College Football News are in agreement it would by the Wildcats tangling with Texas (4-2) out of the Big 12. Would this be a prelude of things to come with the Longhorns joining the SEC in the very near future?
Kentucky and the Longhorns have played just a single game with Texas in the 1950 season opener in Austin. The Wildcats dropped a 7-6 loss thanks to six turnovers despite having one of the greatest quarterbacks to play for Big Blue in Babe Parilli.
Citrus Bowl (Orlando)
The other half of the ESPN duo in Mark Schlabach thinks this is where UK and Penn State square off.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports thinks it will be Kentucky vs Michigan State (6-0). An intriguing matchup of teams that haven’t met since 1947 and are 2-2 against one another. Kentucky won the past two games in 1946 39-14 and 7-6 the following season.
Peach Bowl (Atlanta)
Saturday Down South likes a rematch of last year’s Belk Bowl where the Wildcats beat NC State 23-21. Kentucky leads this series 2-1.
Outback Bowl (Tampa)
The Sporting News likes the Sunshine State for the Wildcats and Michigan State to tee it up.
Then there is 247Sports who projects a game that would draw a lot of questions and hype with Kentucky facing off with Nebraska (3-4). This is the team Wildcat star Wan’Dale Robinson left to return to his Old Kentucky Home and what a storyline this would make.
What if he was still a Cornhusker? How many more touches and production has he had since being at Kentucky?
My Thoughts and projection
Just where Kentucky ends up I think falls into the discussion of where do they Arkansas and Ole Miss finish. Whoever doesn’t stub its toe in the back half of the season will be the bigger draw.
Ole Miss still has to play Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M. They have the tougher schedule.
Arkansas still has Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Alabama, and Missouri.
Kentucky I think has the easier stretch. That could bode in their favor.
The Citrus was my pick last week and I still think they are very interested in the Cats.
The Peach doesn’t even have to send people to watch the Cats they already know UK will take over “Cat-lanta.”
NOLA would be a welcome change and Cat fans would invade Bourbon Street.
Last week I felt Kentucky would be playing in the Citrus Bowl. I still think this is a strong bowl for them to land in facing either Michigan State, Michigan, or Ohio State. The three all still have to play each other and wait for the dust to settle.
I am taking Kentucky and Michigan to play here.
The other option right there in contention is the Sugar Bowl and hooking up with the Longhorns. Two massive fan bases would swarm the Big Easy and fill the streets and Ceasars Superdome.