A heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M on Saturday night didn’t do anything to hinder Kentucky’s bowl outlook for the 2018 postseason, according to the new projections that started rolling in Sunday.
UK (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) is still seen as an attractive bowl team and still controls its own destiny in the SEC East race. If the Cats can win out — a feat that would include a home victory over No. 2 Georgia at Kroger Field on Nov. 3 — they would end up in the SEC title game.
There’s a long way to go, but Kentucky’s remaining schedule is favorable.
In fact, CBS Sports analyst Jerry Palm is projecting that the Cats will finish the season at 10-2, which would put them squarely in the debate for a New Year’s Six bid to the Peach Bowl.
Palm wrote Sunday morning that he sees UK locked in a battle with Louisiana State and Florida (which the Cats beat earlier this season) for that Peach Bowl spot. He’s currently giving the nod to LSU, though there’s still plenty of time for that to change.
Kentucky will play Michigan State in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 1, according to Palm’s latest projections.
SB Nation and 247Sports also have the Wildcats facing the Spartans in the Outback Bowl in their latest projections, which were updated Sunday afternoon. The Orlando Sentinel’s new predictions put UK in the Outback Bowl, as well, though that list has the Cats facing Indiana. And the Sporting News has UK playing Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.
USA Today and CollegeFootballNews.com are also predicting a Jan. 1 game for Kentucky — the Citrus Bowl in Orlando — against the Wisconsin Badgers. ESPN’s Mitch Sherman has that same matchup — UK vs. Wisconsin in the Citrus Bowl — while ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura is projecting a Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech battle in the Music City Bowl in Nashville on Dec. 28.
Sports Illustrated, which had UK playing in the Citrus Bowl after last week’s win over South Carolina, now has Kentucky matched up against Duke in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 29. Veteran college football journalist Brett McMurphy of WatchStadium.com also has UK in the Belk Bowl, with the Cats facing North Carolina State.
UK has not played in a New Year’s Day game in 20 years — since Tim Couch led the Cats to an appearance in the Outback Bowl following the 1998 season.
SEC-affiliated bowl games
*-Notre Dame is possible opponent