Kentucky football: Season halfway complete lets start talking bowl prospects

Kentucky Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /

Well here we are just past the halfway point in the college football season and Kentucky football is off on a much-needed bye week to heal, reflect and look ahead to its five remaining games and possible bowl destination.

Rest assured coach Mark Stoops and his team won’t be looking past Tennessee in 9 days but we and the national media now can have some fun projecting the Wildcats’ potential bowl destination.

Kentucky (5-2, 2-2) needs just one more win to become bowl eligible and that should not be an issue, but giving away a win against Ole Miss 22-19 and falling flat and losing to South Carolina has certainly altered the trajectory and potential win total.

Thankfully they regrouped after losing these two back-to-backs and earned a hard-fought 27-17 win over Mississippi State.

While lofty for sure I did project Kentucky would sit 7-0 at this time winning a must-game against Florida and nipping Ole Miss on a late drive-winning field goal. All of Big Blue Nation realizes this should have actually happened, but reality and the final score say differently.

The Cats don’t have the easiest of five games remaining with a pair of undefeated Southeastern Conference East foes Tennessee and Georgia ahead and wildcard games with Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Louisville.

Wins against Tennessee and Georgia will be very daunting tasks which we all knew but it’s the other three that are tricky. Missouri has discovered this hatred for UK and the Wildcats travel to Columbia for this one. Vandy is Vandy and these never seem to be pretty. Louisville has a coach on a very hot seat and could be imploding or finding new life for the final game of the season.

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl

Saturday, December 17, 2022
TV and Time: 7:30, ABC
Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
Bowl Ties: SEC vs Pac-12

ESPN writer Mark Schlabach is predicting the Wildcats will be here to face Washington State (4-3) out of the PAC-12. The two teams have never met on the football field so it would be a new team to see.

One caveat here is that The Las Vegas Bowl is on the same day that John Calipari’s basketball team plays UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic. The basketball game tips at 5:15 p.m. ET and the football game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

For Big Blue Nation though going to Vegas in December could be an expensive trip one week before Christmas, but if fans want to make it a football weekend stay for Sunday when the Raiders host New England in the NFL Sunday night game.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Friday, December 30, 2022
TV and Time – 3:30, ESPN
TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Bowl Ties: SEC vs ACC

The other half of the ESPN duo Kyle Bonagura has the Wildcats in Jacksonville to face off with NC State (5-2) while the Sporting News believes the opponent will be North Carolina (6-1).

It would be a stretch to have another rematch between Kentucky and the Wolfpack who played in this very game last year where UK was the victor 23-21. The Wildcats have won 2 of the 3 matchups played.

If the basketball bluebloods meet on the gridiron it would be the first time in 32 years with the series tied at five wins apiece. The biggest game in the series would have to be the 21-0 shutout Kentucky posted in the 1976 Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

ReliaQuest Bowl

Monday, January 2, 2023
12:00, ESPN2
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Bowl Ties: SEC vs Big Ten or ACC

First off this is formally known as the Outback Bowl for those who are confused by the ever-changing sponsorship names.

With the two losses and the success that Tennessee and Old Miss are enjoying this seems to be the consensus landing spot for the Kentucky football team to ring in the New Year.

CBS Sports Jerry Palm along with 24/7 Sports projects the opponent will be Wake Forrest (5-1). Kentucky and the Deamon Deacons have never faced each other.

The Sporting News believes the Wildcats and Tar Heels will meet but instead in Tampa and not Jacksonville. While College Football News believes it will be Illinois (6-1) lining up across from each other for the first time since the early 1900s. Kentucky won the 1909 game while Illinois claimed the 1913 game both in Urbana.

Athlon Sports also likes a BigTen team to face these Cats but that being Florida State (4-3). Kentucky owns a 4-1 record against the Seminoles including a 35-28 in the Music City Bowl the last time the two played.

A lot of football is left to be played but if the schedule plays out where Kentucky goes 3-2 the ReliaQuest Bowl I think would be the most likely destination. There are way too many scenarios to play out at this point to figure out an opponent but a team from either conference would be just fine to start the New Year.

If you want an offensive-type game North Carolina has put up 292 points this season, but if the defense is your thing then Illinois is a team that has only allowed 62 points this year. For reference, Kentucky has scored 185 points while allowing a total of 115.

If Kentucky can pull a stunner against either Tennessee or Georgia then that can change the picture as well.

Kentucky rallies back to upend Mississippi State. dark. Next