TaxSlayer Bowl for Cats? It could be New Year’s Eve in Florida

Vicky Graff Photo

The Cats may go bowling in Jacksonville, FL, on New Year’s Eve. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Just making a bowl game seemed an unrealistic goal to most — well, maybe not coach Mark Stoops — after Kentucky opened the season 0-2.

Even when the Cats got to 6-5 going into the regular-season ending game at Louisville, anything but a lower tier bowl seemed unlikely.

But a 41-38 win over Louisville certainly has changed a lot. I thought UK might get a spot in the Music City Bowl, but a source tells me now that barring any last-minute changes — and that’s always possible — that UK will play in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 31.

That’s a huge step up for Kentucky. The payout is not different from the Music City Bowl and I doubt that Jacksonville can host a better game than Nashville. However, playing in a Florida bowl game just resonates a little different. It sounds better. Recruits like it. Kentucky gets exposure in a state where football is king.

Sure, some fans that could go to Nashville might not be able to make Jacksonville. But Stoops and his players deserve a trip like this after what they have done this year.

The TaxSlayer Bowl was once known as the Gator Bowl. It’s not a BCS bowl but it’s well above an average bowl and that’s what UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart wanted for this team.

Kentucky is really a good story, too. Starting quarterback goes down with an injury and little-known junior college transfer quarterback steps in to lead team to bowl game. Kentucky goes from a pass-first team to a run-first team. Fans go from calling for Stoops to being gone to overflowing the Stoops bandwagon.

It’s been a fun ride and if my source is right, bringing in the new year in Florida is going to be a lot more fun for UK players, fans and coaches.

5 comments

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  1. This is a season I will never forget. Watching this team grow has been an inspiration. Thanks to Coach Stoops, his staff and this amazing group of young men for bestowing upon the BBN the best gift of all… belief.
    Wildcat football is inspiring… BELIEVE.

    GO CATS !!!!!!!!

  2. I hope you’re right Larry, I pre bought mine thru UK’s website for it!

  3. I hope they get this bowl also. This was the best season I can remember. They give BB teams names we need one for this FB team. I like the Unbelievables. Because only a small few of us , here on VV and throughout the BBN believed in this team or this coach.

  4. I hope UK gets the TaxSlayer. I lived in and around Jacksonville for 18 years. It is a great town, and a football town. Weather can be real nice too, but it does get cold there at times. The Cats deserve a different bowl than Music City IMO, but any bowl game is ok. Cat fans will show up, and there are many UK fans in Jax.

  5. I was one of those calling for Stoops to move on after that 0-2 start. I thought they should have been better at that point. The play calling was atrocious. it was so predictable i sat with my wife and told her exactly where the ball was going on pretty much every play. If I can do it a lot of professional coaches certainly can do it.

    But wow what a difference a few weeks made. Maybe the best thing that happened to this team was the QB change. I don’t have a thing against Barker. He seems like a good kid but he wasn’t getting it done. Things changed in a big way.

    Now I’m ready to offer Stoops a big extension and a raise in hopes he actually stays in Lexington. More established programs like to grab up and coming coaches from teams like UK. It’s like what the basketball team did to Memphis. I hope he stays. He’s doing the job and getting better all the time.

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