UPDATE (4 p.m.): Kentucky football will face Iowa in the Music City Bowl on New Year’s Eve in Nashville.
The game will present a rematch of last season’s Citrus Bowl, going against the SEC’s normal bowl placement procedures that work to avoid repeat matchups in a short window. It also forces a conflict for Kentucky fans since the Music City Bowl kicks off at the same time as the Kentucky-Louisville men’s basketball rivalry game.
You can read more about the Wildcats’ matchup here.
What bowls are options for Kentucky?
Once the New Year’s Six bowl assignments are made, the rest of the bowl games can start to be filled. For the Southeastern Conference, the next domino is the Citrus Bowl, which has selected LSU.
After the Citrus Bowl makes its selection, the SEC office assigns its remaining bowl-eligible teams to a group known as the “Pool of Six,” which includes the ReliaQuest (Tampa, Florida), Gator (Jacksonville, Florida), Music City (Nashville, Tennessee), Texas (Houston, Texas), Liberty (Mepmhis, Tennessee) and Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada) bowls. With a 7-5 record, Kentucky will be in this group.
The SEC will have three teams in the New Year’s Six games with Georgia in the playoff, No. 5 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and No. 6 Tennessee in the Orange Bowl.
Eight-win South Carolina, Ole Miss and Mississippi State will be available in the SEC’s “Pool of Six,” likely keeping Kentucky from the two Florida bowls in the pool. Recent buzz has pointed to the two Tennessee games as the most likely destinations for Kentucky, but nothing is finalized.
Brett McMurphy, the national college football reporter most plugged into the bowl process, has reported Florida will be the SEC’s team in the Las Vegas Bowl, Ole Miss will represent the league in the Texas Bowl and Arkansas will play in the Liberty Bowl. If the two Mississippi teams are slotted in the two Florida games, Kentucky would be left for the Music City Bowl, but McMurphy has also reported there was still late confusion about where Notre Dame would fall in the ACC’s bowl process, which could have ramifications for the matchup in the Gator Bowl.
Since the SEC works to avoid repeat matchups in its “Pool of Six” bowl assignments, the Big Ten bowl assignments could have ramifications for Kentucky. Iowa is also a possibility for the Music City Bowl. If the Hawkeyes are bowling in Nashville, Kentucky is unlikely to be their opponent since the two programs faced off in the Citrus Bowl last year.
When will Kentucky’s bowl be announced?
The SEC’s “Pool of Six” assignments will probably be announced mid afternoon Sunday, but bowl matchups usually leak before the official announcement. Kentucky fans learned that in 2019 when early reports had the Wildcats headed to the Gator Bowl only for a late change of heart from Tennessee (which had previously been slotted in the Music City Bowl) resulting in Kentucky being assigned to the Belk Bowl instead.
What are the latest Kentucky bowl projections?
ESPN (Kyle Bonagura): Las Vegas Bowl vs. UCLA
ESPN (Mark Schlabach): Music City Bowl vs. Iowa
The Athletic (Stewart Mandel and Scott Dochterman): Liberty Bowl vs. Kansas
Athlon (Steve Lassan): Music City Bowl vs. Minnesota
CBSSports (Jerry Palm): Texas Bowl vs. Oklahoma State
Action Network (Brett McMurphy): Music City Bowl vs. Iowa
247Sports (Brad Crawford): Music City Bowl vs. Illinois
USA Today (Erick Smith): Las Vegas Bowl vs. Oregon