Every year the Bowl situation is confusing and isn’t sorted out until a mad scramble over the last few days. But this year, the confusion is even more intense. There are currently 40 Bowl games scheduled, which means that 80 teams have to be eligible. At this moment, only 71 teams have the 6 wins necessary to be eligible. There are currently 13 teams (of which Kentucky is one) that have 5 wins and thus the chance to get bowl eligible next week (you can read more about it here). If one looks at the schedule, it becomes clear that is unlikely 9 of those 13 will win, meaning that at least a few 5 win teams are going to be headed to a Bowl game. This scenario has been contemplated by the NCAA and thus they instituted a provision that stated that if there weren’t enough teams eligible for a Bowl game at 6 wins, any team with 5 wins that is in the top 5 nationwide in APR score, would be eligible as well. The problem is that as of this moment, no such team exists. Thus some amount of 5 win teams are likely to be bowl eligible, and there exists no obvious criteria to determine who they will be.
So what does this all mean for Kentucky you may be asking? Well first it means that a Bowl game can still happen with a loss…and THAT MATTERS. Even if you don’t think Kentucky would “deserve” to make a Bowl, the 20 extra practices and recruiting help means you take it no matter what. So how will this happen? Let’s make it simple:
BEAT LOUISVILLE: If Kentucky beats Louisville, they become bowl eligible and will be slotted into one of the three bottom places for SEC Bowls…at this moment that would mean the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Birmingham Bowl or Independence Bowl in Shreveport. As of this moment, Auburn and Arkansas both have six wins…Auburn plays Alabama this week so they won’t win another. Arkansas plays Missouri at home, a game it likely wins. Thus the Hogs will probably get the top slot of these three bowls, meaning they go to the Liberty. UK beats Louisville and thus the Cats and Auburn are divided between the other two. Since The Birmingham Bowl is in Alabama and thus Auburn would sell tickets, but likely do little for tourism AND because the Independence Bowl is on the same day as the UK-UL Basketball game…my guess is Kentucky would be sent to Birmingham, likely to play Memphis or Houston. Get your Legion Field Funk-protective clothing ready.
LOSE TO LOUISVILLE: This is much more complicated. The NCAA is meeting tomorrow to decide how they will determine which 5 win teams get to go to a bowl. If its APR score, Kentucky is screwed. Of the 13 teams with 5 wins, we are 12th on the list…so it is a no-go. But I can’t imagine the NCAA is going to rely on that alone…so let’s see who these 5 win teams are:
Tulsa (5-6) at Tulane (3-8)
Virginia Tech (5-6) at Virginia (4-7)
Iowa (11-0) at Nebraska (5-6)
Indiana (5-6) at Purdue (2-9)
Northwestern (9-2) at Illinois (5-6)
Wisconsin (8-3) at Minnesota (5-6)
Florida Atlantic (2-9) at Old Dominion (5-6)
UMass (2-9) at Buffalo (5-6)
Washington State (8-3) at Washington (5-6)
Louisville (6-5) at Kentucky (5-6)
Missouri (5-6) at Arkansas (6-5)
Boise State (7-4) at San Jose State (5-6)
So looking at those, who is likely to win. I will give a win to Tulsa, Va Tech (Beamer’s last game), Indiana, Old Dominion and Buffalo. That is 5. Others could win, but those seem most likely. In addition, Texas and Kansas State both have 4 wins and are likely to win one more to get to 5. So this would be the group to select from…
San Jose State
4 of those 9 teams would go. Texas and Nebraska are going…too big programs not to. But after that, I think Kentucky is a pretty solid pick. The fan travel, plus the SEC name means that bowls that could never sniff a SEC team now get a chance to have one. Throw in the fact that one of the Bowls (the Independence) would presumably not have a SEC representative and slotting UK there would make sense. Plus, the Bowl in Detroit (scheduled for Dec 28) currently doesn’t have any team projected to be eligible (you can see the projections here). Kentucky being so close to Detroit would seem to only make sense.
Thus depending on (a) what the NCAA decides tomorrow the criteria for 5 win teams will be and (b) whether any of the above 5 win teams pull an upset next week, Kentucky could end up in a Bowl game, whether they beat Louisville or not.
But let’s just beat them anyway…Petrino is the worst.