Three takeaways from Kentucky football’s Music City Bowl bid

Silas Walker/swalker@herald-leader.com

Three takeaways from the news Kentucky football will play Iowa in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31:

1. Another Big Blue New Year’s Eve in Nashville

Stop complaining. All in all, it says here that Nashville is a good destination for this Kentucky football team to cap off this 2022 Kentucky football season. It’s close. It’s familiar. It’s a fun place to be, especially on a New Year’s Eve.

After a disappointing 7-5 season, I’m not sure how willing Big Blue Nation would have been to dig deep into its holiday wallet and pack its bags for a long journey — say to Las Vegas — even if the destination was to a much warmer climate.

Though this is Kentucky football’s fifth trip to the Music City Bowl since 1999, it’s the first since 2017.

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2. The UK football game trumps the UK basketball game

In all the pre-bowl speculation, the one impediment to a Kentucky football appearance in the Music City Bowl was the scheduling fact that Kentucky basketball plays Louisville at Rupp Arena on the same date (Dec. 31) at the same time (noon).

But given the present circumstances, is there really a conflict?

Seriously. Sad to say, but Louisville is terrible. Beyond terrible, actually. The Cardinals are ow 0-8 after being drilled 80-53 at home by Miami in U of L’s ACC opener on Sunday. Louisville has now lost by 26 to Arkansas, 32 to Texas Tech, 19 to Cincinnati, 25 to Maryland and 27 to Miami.

I thought former Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne was the perfect choice for the Louisville job. I don’t think Payne should be fired, even if the Cardinals fail to win a single game in his debut season. I expected Louisville to be bad this year. This bad? Not on your life.

The way things are going, it would take a miracle for Louisville to beat Kentucky at Rupp on New Year’s Eve.

Louisville’s breathtaking futility makes this year’s UK-U of L basketball game something far less than a “Dream Game.” In fact, it makes Kentucky football’s Music Bowl appearance the more interesting of the two events come Dec. 31.

[Three takeaways from Kentucky football’s win over Iowa in 2021 Citrus Bowl]

3. Iowa as an opponent is a disappointment

Nothing against Iowa and Kirk Ferentz, but the Cats faced the Hawkeyes just last year when UK pulled out a 20-17 win over Mark Stoops’ alma mater in the Citrus Bowl.

Look at the opponents for the other 10 SEC teams

  • Peach: Georgia vs. Ohio State

  • Sugar: Alabama vs. Kansas State

  • Orange: Tennessee vs. Clemson

  • Las Vegas: Florida vs. Oregon State

  • Gasparilla: Missouri vs. Wake Forest

  • Liberty: Arkansas vs. Kansas

  • Texas: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech

  • Gator: South Carolina vs. Notre Dame

  • Reliaquest: Mississippi State vs. Illinois

  • Citrus: LSU vs. Purdue

A win over South Carolina and maybe Kentucky plays Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. Wins over South Carolina and Vanderbilt and maybe UK is playing Illinois in the Reliaquest, formerly known as the Outback Bowl. Wins over South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Tennessee and maybe Kentucky is playing Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

Oh well, you take what you can get. And Iowa went 7-5 this season, including a 24-3 win at Purdue, who gave No. 2-ranked Michigan a competitive game in the Big Ten championship tilt on Saturday night.

The Hawkeyes were fourth in the nation in total defense this season. Kentucky was 18th. So I don’t look for a high-scoring game on Dec. 31 in Nashville. But I do look for a good one.

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