What bowl will Kentucky go to this year? After Saturday’s loss to Ole Miss, probably not one as nice as we all would have liked, but still, as a Kentucky football fan circa 2012 would remind you, a bowl is a bowl is a bowl. Let’s review the possible scenarios, with three games left in the season.
TaxSlayer Bowl — OUT
December 30, Noon, Jacksonville, Florida (ESPN)
Unfortunately, the TaxSlayer Bowl can only invite a team once every three years, so this rules Kentucky OUT. That’s a shame because that’s one of the few bowls that doesn’t conflict with the basketball team’s schedule and I think fans would welcome another trip to Jacksonville over, you know, Memphis. Speaking of…
Liberty Bowl — If Kentucky goes 6-6 or 7-5
December 30, 12:30 p.m., Memphis, Tennessee (ABC)
Should Kentucky lose out or only win one more game, the Liberty Bowl is a likely destination. The game time doesn’t conflict with basketball, and, even though the stadium isn’t in the best part of town, Memphis is fun. It’s a doable drive and, although the bowl isn’t prestigious as others we had hoped for, BBQ and blues ain’t a bad thing.
Outback Bowl — If Kentucky goes 9-3…or maybe even 8-4
January 1, Noon, Tampa, Florida (ESPN2)
Did Saturday’s loss to Ole Miss knock Kentucky out of contention for the Outback Bowl? Barring a miracle upset of Georgia, probably. Even if Georgia and Alabama both make the playoff, there are other teams higher than Kentucky in the pecking order, such as LSU and Mississippi State. Just because I love Bloomin’ Onions and sunshine so much, I’m going to let myself dream that the Outback Bowl is still a possibility if Kentucky beats Vanderbilt and Louisville. The founder did go to UK after all, and man, would we travel.
Belk Bowl — Basketball conflict
December 29, 1 p.m., Charlotte, North Carolina (ESPN)
The Belk Bowl could be an excellent landing spot for Kentucky…if the basketball team didn’t play Louisville at the exact same time. While Mitch Barnhart said last week that UK isn’t ruling out playing in a bowl game on the same day as a basketball game, why would the bowl take a team whose fanbase is going to be split between the two games? What a shame. The Belk Bowl’s Twitter account is hilarious.
Music City Bowl — Sort of a Basketball conflict?
December 29, 4:30 p.m., Nashville, Tennessee (ESPN)
The Music City Bowl kicks off at 4:30 p.m. ET, so about an hour and a half after the Louisville game would be over. The 23,000 or so fans that go to the Louisville game at Rupp obviously wouldn’t be able to make the trip to Nashville, but what’s stopping the rest of the Big Blue Nation from coming down to Music City, watching the basketball game at a bar or tailgate, and then rolling into Nissan Stadium in a real rowdy manner? Unlike the Belk Bowl, TV audiences wouldn’t be split, and many UK fans may be willing to make the three-hour or so drive down to Nashville if they can see both games. I realize I’m biased here (mostly because I’m lazy), but this sounds like a good option.
Birmingham Bowl — Basketball conflict
December 23, Noon, Birmingham, Alabama (ESPN)
This game takes place on the same day as the basketball team’s game vs. UCLA in New Orleans, although it would likely end just as the basketball game was beginning since UK/UCLA drew the second game of the CBS Sports Classic doubleheader. The timing of both trips is problematic as it’s so close to Christmas, so let’s hope Kentucky can at least go to the Liberty Bowl to avoid this scenario.
Texas Bowl: Possible, but likely an SEC West team
December 27, 9 p.m., Houston, Texas (ESPN)
An SEC West team has gone to the Texas Bowl since the SEC became its league partner three years ago. Auburn, LSU, and Mississippi State are all bowl eligible, but if they get picked by other bowls, this could be an option.
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl — If Kentucky goes 6-6 and all of the other bowls pass on them
December 27, 1:30 p.m., Shreveport, Louisiana (ESPN)
Current projections have a team from another conference in this bowl since it’s likely the SEC won’t fill all of its bowl spots, which is just fine by me. No basketball conflicts, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.