Whether or not Kentucky deserved to play in the Gator Bowl over the Belk Bowl or playing Indiana is more attractive that Virginia Tech, the reality is the bowl game Kentucky will play on New Year’s Eve is, in the grand scheme of things, meaningless. Last year’s game against Penn State held extreme importance getting UK a 10-win season and beating one of the nation’s powers. Virginia Tech doesn’t hold anywhere near that kind of clout. While this season has been interesting to say the least, it will never be considered one of the great seasons in UK history. Lynn Bowden basically became a legend this season but beyond that, not a whole lot that will be remembered long term.
So where do we find significance in a game that, on the surface, holds very little meaning? Here are 5 ways it could excite you:
- 8 win seasons don’t happen very often for Kentucky football, even with a 12-game schedule. In fact, in the last 50 years of Kentucky football, we’ve had a grand total of SIX seasons of 8 wins or more. So while I already said this season will not be remembered as a “great” season, you could argue it is one of the 10 best in UK history.
- Say what you want about the quality of Virginia Tech, Kentucky has beaten all of ONE Power 5 non-conference not named Louisville in the past 12 seasons, and that was Penn State last year. Being able to handle your business against another power conference opponent still solidifies your place in the college football hierarchy.
- Two bowl wins in a row. Bear Bryant and Rich Brooks. The only two men to accomplish that at Kentucky. Mark Stoops could become the third.
- Lynn Bowden’s swan song. Maybe he comes back but probably not. And for what he has meant to this team this year, seeing him perform one more time should be cherished by everybody.
- What is the future? Bowden, gone. A couple other regular contributors will be gone as well. But overall, this team will be coming back largely in tact. Will we see some new guys star in a bowl game, as we often do? An unexpected WR? Young defensive lineman gets a couple sacks? It almost always plays out that somebody emerges we haven’t heard from this season and gets us excited for 2020. Who will that be?