Kentucky football: Bowl trip to sunny Florida remains very cloudy for Wildcats

Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Kobi Albert (Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Kobi Albert (Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports) /

While the Kentucky football team took care of business by beating Missouri on Saturday their bowl hopes of playing in sunny Florida, especially on New Year’s weekend remain cloudy in a topsy-turvey Southeastern Conference.

A lot of pieces still have to shake out before UK and the rest of the conference has a clear vision along with the respective bowls and more importantly the College Football Playoff Committee. One piece is Kentucky winning two of three games and “gulp” hoping Tennessee wins out.

The Kentucky football team stands at 6-3 after literally surviving a slug-fest with Mizzou before pulling out a 21-17 win due to Colin Goodfellow sacrificing his body and a season-ending injury to make sure that happened.

When Tennessee was blitzed by Georgia the Vols fell out of this week’s four-team playoff selection and down to No. 5. much to the delight of Kentucky fans after the Rocky Top horror show beat down the Vols administered to UK the week prior.

Unfortunately, the Tennessee loss in fact hurt the Florida bowl hopes of Kentucky and now the Wildcats need the Vols’ help and win out.

The current SEC order of teams looks like this:

Georgia (9-0, 6-0)

Tennessee (8-1, 4-1)

Ole Miss (8-1, 4-1)

LSU (7-2, 4-1)

Alabama (7-2, 4-2)

South Carolina (6-3, 3-3)

Kentucky (6-3, 3-3)

Mississippi State (6-3, 3-3)

Florida (5-4, 2-4)

Arkansas (5-4, 2-3)

Of course, these standings and the talk of Kentucky football easily could have been different had they not botched and lost games to Ole Miss and South Carolina on consecutive weekends. With UK and South Carolina tied the Gamecocks actually would rank ahead of the Cats.

The Wildcats have three games left and must beat Vanderbilt this weekend and then Louisville in three weeks in the regular season finale. That looked to be easy early on but the Cardinals have been playing much better and are now bowl-eligible as well and received votes in this week’s poll.

Kentucky plays Georgia next weekend and unless some miracle happens that can be chalked up as a loss even with the game in Lexington.

As much as I hate to write this and Big Blue Nation will not like it the best scenario for Kentucky to get to Florida is for Tennessee to win out and get back into the playoffs along with Georgia.

If the season ended today,  Tennessee would be in the Sugar Bowl and LSU would end up in the Orange Bowl using the SEC tie-ins.

The only Florida destination then is the Citrus Bowl which would go to either Ole Miss or Alabama. The SEC’s next tie-ins are with the “Pool of Six” bowls (ReliaQuest, Gator, Music City, Liberty, Las Vegas, and Texas). The first two are in Florida the others would not be very appealing.)

Big Blue Nation I wouldn’t book any tickets just yet there are a lot of what-ifs and upsets that can still turn this upside down.

Tennesse will be closely watching No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan play each other in the final game of the season, and this weekend No. 4 TCU plays at No. 18 Texas.

The closing weeks of the SEC schedule have:

Georgia playing at Mississippi State and at Kentucky and hosts Georgia Tech.

Tennessee has games against Missouri, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt remaining so that looks like three wins.

LSU is on the road at Arkansas and Texas A&M and hosts Alabama Birmingham.

Alabama and Ole Miss play each other Saturday and the Rebels still must go to Arkansas. Then the rivalry weekend closes out with Mississippi State vs Ole Miss and Bama and Auburn.

So where do the experts think Kentucky football ends up playing

TransPerfect Music City Bowl

Saturday, December 31, 2022
12:00, ESPN
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
Bowl Ties: Big Ten vs SEC

One-half of the ESPN duo Mark Schlabach has the Cats still in Nashville but this week playing Minnesota (6-3)

Jerry Palm with CBS and Bill Bender of the Sporting News both have Kentucky battling Wisconsin (5-4).

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

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

ESPN writer Kyle Bonagura continues to leave UK in this bowl with the opponent switching weekly. This week it is NC State (7-2). This would be a rematch in the same bowl from 2021 where Kentucky won 23-21.

ReliaQuest Bowl

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

Rember folks this is formally known as the Outback Bowl and just has a new sponsor.

Athlon Sports has moved the Cats over to Tampa this week and facing Wisconsin. The Cats beat the Badgers 20-19 in 1984 in the Hall of Fame Classic Bowl game played in Birmingham.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Wednesday, December 28, 2022
5:30, ESPN
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Bowl Ties: Big 12 vs SEC

Well, this is the first time this destination pops up and if it holds true would be a big slip-up for the Wildcats and a poorly attended game fan-wise I would have to believe. Going to Memphis on a Wednesday at the end of December has basically zero appeal.

 College Football News predicts Kentucky playing Oklahoma State (6-3) in this one, a team they have never faced before.

Where do I think Kentucky football plays this bowl season?

At this moment I think Kentucky ends up in Nashville which will be hard for Big Blue Nation being that they play Louisville in basketball at the exact same time.

Wisconsin (5-4) like Kentucky should at least win two of their final three games against Iowa and Nebraska before the season finale hosting a 6-3 Minnesota team and top me would be the likely scenario.

Next. Goodfellow sacrifices body for Cats victory. dark