UK Football

Major bowl game still projected for Kentucky despite OT loss to Texas A&M

Mark Stoops ‘very disappointed’ by UK’s loss at Texas A&M

Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after his team’s 20-14 overtime loss at Texas A&M.
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Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after his team’s 20-14 overtime loss at Texas A&M.

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 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 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

Dec. 22BirminghamBirmingham, Ala.NoonESPNAAC
Dec. 27IndependenceShreveport, La.1:30 p.m.ESPNACC*
Dec. 27TexasHouston, Texas9 p.m.ESPNBig 12
Dec. 28Music CityNashville, Tenn.1:30 p.m. ESPNACC/Big Ten*
Dec. 29BelkCharlotte, N.C.NoonABCACC*
Dec. 31LibertyMemphis, Tenn.3:45 p.m.ESPNBig 12
Dec. 31GatorJacksonville, Fla.7:30 p.m.ESPNACC/Big Ten*
Jan. 1OutbackTampa, Fla.NoonESPN2Big Ten
Jan. 1CitrusOrlando, Fla.1 p.m.ABCBig Ten
Jan. 1SugarNew Orleans, La.8:30 p.m.ESPNBig 12

Dec. 29PeachAtlantaNoonESPNNew Year’s Six
Jan. 1FiestaGlendale, Ariz.1 p.m.ESPNNew Year’s Six
Jan. 1RosePasadena, Calif.5 p.m.ESPNNew Year’s Six
Jan. 1SugarNew Orleans8:45 p.m.ESPNNew Year’s Six

Dec. 29CottonDallas, Texas4 or 8 p.m.ESPNPlayoff semis
Dec. 29OrangeMiami, Fla.4 or 8 p.m.ESPNPlayoff semis
Jan. 7National titleSanta Clara, Calif.8 p.m.ESPNSemi winners

*-Notre Dame is possible opponent

Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson talks to the media after UK’s 20-14 overtime loss at Texas A&M on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Kentucky’s offense was held to 178 total yards.