Cats In Play For A Number Of Locations
Following a 9-3 regular season Kentucky’s bowl options were pretty cut and dried. The choices were either the then-Outback Bowl in Tampa or Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Of course, the Cats ended up in the Citrus where they beat Iowa in an instant classic. Fast forward a year and Mark Stoops’ 7-5 squad has plenty of choices. Let’s break them down by looking at Kentucky’s 2022 Bowl Options.
Just Out Of Reach?
Retaining the Governor’s Cup over Louisville gave the Wildcats a chance at a much better bowl. Reportedly tops on their list is the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. UK’s played in this one twice before losing to Georgia Tech 33-16 in 2016 and beating North Carolina State two years ago in another thriller.
Unfortunately, this one looks off the table unless they get some help. LSU’s loss to Texas A&M dropped them out of the selection committee games. Unless they shock Georgia in the SEC title game they’ll likely go to the Citrus Bowl. After LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Mississippi State get the next picks. One of them, likely the Gamecocks, will choose the Gator Bowl.
Even though they likely won’t get their top pick as we continue looking at Kentucky’s 2022 bowl options they’re still in the running for four other games.
Leader In The Clubhouse
With the Gator likely out of the picture, the focus turns to the Music City Bowl. That of course is a game the Big Blue Nation knows well. Did you know Kentucky has the record for most appearances in Nashville with five? Overall they are 2-3 with their first appearance coming in a 1999 loss to Syracuse 20-13.
The Cats got on the smiling side of the scoreboard in 2006 and 2007 beating Clemson 28-20 and Florida State 35-28 respectively. Since then they’ve lost the last two. Clemson won the rematch 21-13 in 2009 and of course, the 24-23 loss to Northwestern in 2017 made as many headlines for Benny Snell’s ridiculous ejection as the actual game.
Reports say this is UK’s preferred game for 2022. There was some concern as the Wildcat basketball team plays Louisville at the same time, at noon on December 31st. The school says it’s not an issue so this looks like the likely landing point.
Currently, Last Word has Kentucky playing Illinois. The two schools have only met twice in history with the series tied 1-1. The last meeting came all the way back in 1913. Minnesota and Wisconsin are other options.
The only problem would be if the Big 10 selects Iowa as the opponent. Bowls don’t like to have the same teams play in consecutive years if possible. We don’t think it’s an issue as Last Word currently has the Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl.
If for some reason the Cats don’t end up in Nashville what else is available? Let’s break them down as we continue looking at Kentucky’s 2022 bowl options.
Walking In Memphis
The next likely destination if it’s not Nashville is also in the Volunteer State. Played in Memphis the Liberty Bowl would most likely get the nod. The Cats played in this game once following the 2008 season and it was a memorable one.
Down 16-3 at the half to East Carolina Kentucky made a furious rally pulling out a 25-19 win. David Jones took the second-half kick 99 yards to the house to get UK back in the game. Then with three minutes left Ventrell Jenkins took a fumble 56 yards for a score giving the Cats the victory.
Should UK end up in Memphis their opponent would come from the Big 12. Baylor is the name popping up the most though other possible teams could be Kansas or Oklahoma.
As we wrap up Kentucky’s 2022 bowl options we look at two more possible destinations.
Into The Unknown
The final two bowl options are out west and uncharted territory for the Wildcats. In fact, one is new for the SEC. The Texas Bowl in Houston is also on December 28th. Kentucky’s never played in this game as it generally features a team from the SEC West. However, Missouri and Vanderbilt have played in Houston.
Should UK end up here they would face another Big 12 school. Possible teams for this game are Baylor, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech.
Kentucky’s other remaining bowl location is the Las Vegas Bowl on December 17th. Starting in 2020 the SEC and Big 10 alternate years sending teams. In even-numbered years it’s the SEC and the Big 10 in odd. Whoever plays here would be making history as the first league school to play. In addition, a trip to Las Vegas is never a bad thing. They would meet a Pac-12 school, most likely UCLA or Washington State. UK’s never played against either the Bruins or Cougars.
The major drawback to playing a game this early is it’s the weekend before National Signing Day. Coaches want to focus as much effort into locking down players for 2023 during that weekend.
Where would you like to see the Wildcats play and against whom? Thanks for checking out Kentucky’s 2022 Bowl Options here as Last Word On College Football.