Will Kentucky make a bowl game?

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Written and edited by: Ty Schadt

Will Kentucky make a Bowl Game?

It hasn’t been the season many Kentucky football fans spent the summer hoping for, but that doesn’t mean it can’t end on a high note. That might be hard to believe given the Wildcats tough loss to the Volunteers last weekend, but there’s still ample opportunity for the team to secure a bowl bid.

Sports Illustrated released bowl projections earlier this week, and despite being 4-5, Kentucky made the cut. Michael Shapiro placed them in the Dec. 31 Belk Bowl, squaring off against the Virginia Tech Hokies, who sit at 6-3 on the season.

Shapiro didn’t predict any final records, but given his inclusion of the Cats in this game, it’s reasonable to assume he believes they’ll win out and finish the season at 7-5. A six-win team hasn’t made the Belk Bowl since North Carolina in 2013.

What does the path to 7-5 look like? The Cats would have to beat the SEC’s last-place team in Vanderbilt, an FCS team in TN-Martin and the seemingly bowl-bound Louisville Cardinals. 

That’s certainly a favorable stretch, but there are many questions surrounding Kentucky. How will the team respond to a brutal loss? Will the electric Lynn Bowden remain at QB, or will the pocket-passing Sawyer Smith get another crack at it? 

With Bowden, the Cats offense is both undeniably dynamic and frustratingly limited. Since the junior took over behind center, the UK offense has averaged 272 yards rushing but only 46 yards passing per game.

That split is startling, but it’s hard to ignore the energy Bowden brings to the offense. Mark Stoops and Eddie Gran surely want their best playmaker to have as many opportunities to impact the game as possible, and there’s no easier way to get him the ball than having it snapped to him every play.

Kentucky takes on Vanderbilt at 3:30 on Saturday. Stoops and company have earned bowl berths in three straight seasons, and tomorrow begins the stretch that will decide if that streak will live another year. The season can be salvaged, and it starts with a win tomorrow.

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