Kentucky Football: Loss didn’t hurt Cats bowl slots making me feel “peachy”

Kentucky quarterback Will Leviscredit Joshua L Jones
Kentucky quarterback Will Leviscredit Joshua L Jones /

Despite losing to the No. 1 ranked team last Saturday the Kentucky football team did little to dim the light still shining on them and finishing out the season by playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl game.

While losing 30-13 to Georgia was a disheartening defeat for Kentucky (6-1, 4-1) the best thing was everyone across the college football world was tuned into the game. They saw why Georgia is the best in the land, but more importantly that Kentucky played well enough in the marquee matchup to gain a lot of respect.

They only fell 3 spots to No. 14 in the Coaches Poll and to No. 15 in the AP Poll that came out on Monday.

The debate over whether coach Mark Stoops should have called a timeout with three seconds to play and ultimately scored a touchdown is for another column, but it sure looks better losing by only 17 instead of 23 points.

Kentucky football is still on target to play in a New Year’s Six game – but where?

Let’s take a look at our weekly landscape of predictions as well as my own thoughts.

Kentucky is off this week to refocus and get healthy after surviving the gauntlet of three straight brutal Southeastern Conference heavyweights in Florida, LSU, and Georgia. Winning two of those setting them up with a possible 11-1 record, although I have felt 10-2 was more probable.

If they win out a few things Big Blue Nation should keep an eye on them before booking their New Year’s plans. There are a lot of moving pieces if they want to possibly make the playoffs and the College Football Playoff committee wants to put together the sleekest matchups.

The SEC champion either Georgia or Alabama more than likely is slated to a major bowl and probably the playoffs, the second-best is sent to the Citrus Bowl.

The SEC ties-ins after that are all basically on the same level comprised of the Outback, Gator, Texas, Liberty, Music City, and Duke’s Mayo games.

Please no more Music City or mayonnaise games.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Thursday, December 30
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA

ESPN, 7:00 pm
Bowl Tie-Ins: At-Large vs. At-Large
Projected Teams:

Yahoo Sports along with College Football News and Saturday Down South each predicts Kentucky vs NC State in a rematch of last year’s Gator Bowl. It could also be Pitt or Wake Forrest as the opponent if it’s a Big 10 team.

ESPN’s duo of Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura actually agree here it will be Kentucky and Iowa.

Outback Bowl
Saturday, January 1
ESPN2, 12:00 pm
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Bowl Tie-Ins: Big Ten vs. SEC
Projected Teams:

CBS Sports predicts that Kentucky will take on Jeff Brohm and Purdue.

The Sporting News likes the Cats here taking on Sparty and Michigan State.

Playstation Fiesta Bowl
Saturday, January 1
ESPN, 1:00 pm
State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Bowl Tie-Ins: At-Large vs. At-Large
Projected Teams:

Athlon Sports is slating the Wildcats to play in the Fiesta Bowl for the very first time against Penn State.

Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Saturday, January 1
ESPN2, 1:00 pm
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
Bowl Tie-Ins: Big Ten vs. SEC
Projected Teams:

Over at 247 Sports, it’s Kentucky and Michigan State doing battle in sunny Orlando.

So what do I think and want Kentucky football to end up?

Well as you can see week after week there are shifts from bowl to bowl but at this point, Kentucky controls its own destiny. They just need to win out against Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, New Mexico State, and Louisville then wait for the rest to shake out.

Conceivably Georiga and Alabama would meet in the SEC Championship Game. A win by the Tide and Kentucky winning out would mean Georgia, Bama, and Kentucky would each have just one loss.

Currently Ole Miss and Auburn also have just one loss but each still has games that include each other and Alabama. Kentucky really needs them to beat up on one another and especially Ole Miss to lose.

I’ve been on the Citrus Bowl landing spot for a couple of weeks but as things become a bit clearer each week I am feeling a bit more “peachy”.

Going to “Cat-Lanta” would be a great spot for Kentucky. They have only been in the Peach twice before beating North Carolina 21-0 in 1976 and falling to Clemson 14-13 in 1983.

While played on December 30 it would be the main prime time game for the Cats and a great way to showcase the accomplishments of this team.

My preference would be a team out of the Big 10. No offense to the ACC but there are no good teams in that conference and let’s play someone different instead of a rematch with the Wolfpack.

I want a shot at playing Iowa who ranks No. 11 currently and in first in the West sitting at 6-1, 1-0. They suffered their first loss 24-7 last week to Purdue after beating Penn State the week before.

Kentucky and the Hawkeyes have never played before and would be an intriguing matchup. Both fanbases would travel well.

Mark Stoops is the second longest-tenured coach in the SEC and Kirk Ferentz is the longest-tenured in the nation at 23 seasons and he replaced legend Hayden Fry who was there 20 years. A lot of gridiron history here.

If it’s the Outback Bowl that would be just as tasty. Stoops against Jeff Brohm or Sparty works.

So my prediction is Kentucky vs. Iowa in the Peach Bowl.

Kentucky falls slightly in polls. dark. Next