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The Bowl Picture

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With just two games remaining in the season, the thoughts have immediately turned to bowl games….specifically, which bowl game will see Kentucky as its occupant? I have spoken with some people around UK and a couple of media people who have talked with bowl representatives and at this point, this is how it looks:

Beat Georgia and Tennessee:

This scenario becomes quite tasty for Kentucky and puts a number of possibilities in play. If Kentucky can win both games AND LSU goes undefeated in its last two regular season games AND Florida loses to LSU in the SEC Championship game, Kentucky may very well get a Sugar Bowl bid, with LSU in the National Championship game. In order for this to happen, Kentucky should pull for a couple of things…..first, a loss by Kansas in the regular season and the Big 12 title game (thus likely pulling them from an at-large BCS spot). A loss by Hawaii would also take a spot away, as would a loss by Michigan next week to Ohio St (thus making the Buckeyes the only Big 10 bid).

If however the Sugar Bowl passed on the Cats, the likely destination would be Orlando for the Capital One Bowl, where the Cats would likely play the Michigan/Ohio St loser or Wisconsin. Both teams would provide the Cats with a high-quality opponent on a New Year’s Day game….exactly what the Cats want and need.

One Win over Georgia or Tennessee

Win only one game and the forecast is a bit more cloudy. The BCS is out, as is likely the Captial One Bowl, which would probably take Florida or the team that beat UK. In addition, if Tennessee is the team that beats the Cats (and thus wins the SEC East), it could knock the Cats out of the Outback Bowl as it may be unlikely that the SEC gets two into the BCS. The Outback Bowl however remains a possibility if the Cats lose to the Dogs and beat the Vols, and they would likely get matched up with Penn St or Wisconsin.

The most likely scenario with one win is a game in the Peach Bowl, likely with a rematch with Clemson or potentially Boston College. This is the scenario that privately many around UK would prefer if there is a loss as it would likely swarm Atlanta with UK fans in a winnable game that the fanbase could embrace. Because I predict a win over Tennessee and a loss to Georgia, I see this as the most likely result and potentially the best option for the Cats.

Two losses:

Two losses puts a number of bowls into play, but likely puts the Cats in the same scenario they faced last year, Music City or Liberty Bowl. Because of the tremendous potential for ticket sales, it is hard for the Music City to let UK go…..however it may be the Liberty Bowl’s year to pick ahead of the Music City. The way these two bowls work always baffles me, as occasionally the Liberty gets first selection for a game against a crappy Conference USA team. The Music City would likely pair the Cats with Florida State or Clemson, while the Liberty Bowl gives you the best of the Conf USA waste. Two losses leads to a Liberty-Music City fight, with both potentially wanting UK and due to the game last year, unfortunately a potential trip to Memphis.

There is a wildcard here. IF the Cats were to win both games or even just one and things were to fall correctly (i.e Auburn lose to Alabama), the Cotton Bowl may choose to take an SEC East team. IF that happens, then Kentucky or Tenn/Ga could be the pick. That would throw a wrench into everything and potentially lead to a matchup with Texas in Dallas for the Cats. IT is a longshot, but a possibility and one to follow.

Again things can change with an upset or even a change of mind among the folks making the selections, but for now that is how it looks. We shall see what the Cats do and how it all plays out. We will have an update on this scenario this time next week after the game in Athens.

Article written by Matt Jones