Making its return to the postseason, Kentucky has accepted a bid to play in the prestigious TaxSlayer Bowl. The Wildcats will face Georgia Tech.
The game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 31 at 11 a.m. at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida and broadcast on ESPN. Originally known as the Gator Bowl, the TaxSlayer Bowl has been played continuously since the 1945 season, making it the sixth-oldest existing bowl game.
“We’re extremely excited and proud for our team, our university and our fans, to be invited to the TaxSlayer Bowl,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said. “It’s a bowl with a rich tradition and we’re honored to become part of it. We’re also excited about the opportunity to play Georgia Tech, an outstanding team that will be a great challenge.”
This marks UK’s first bowl appearance since the 2010 season and first during the Stoops era. Overall, this will be Kentucky’s 16th bowl appearance with the Wildcats owning a record of 8-7 in those games. UK has never played in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
“Accepting a bid to the TaxSlayer Bowl is a well-deserved reward for a team and coaching staff that showed remarkable resilience this season,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “We are building a program and playing in a bowl this prominent is an important step in that process. We look forward to our time in a great city and being joined there by a large contingent of the Big Blue Nation.”
Kentucky will enter the TaxSlayer Bowl with a record of 7-5, including 7-3 over the last 10 games following an 0-2 start to the season. The Wildcats got their signature win in the regular-season finale, retaking the Governor’s Cup with a 41-38 upset at No. 11 Louisville to follow up a 4-4 finish in conference play, tied for second in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.
The Wildcats’ emergence this season has come in large part due to a ground game that ranked 17th nationally entering this weekend with an average of 241.3 yards per game. UK boasts a pair of 1,000 yard rushers – Stanley “Boom” Williams and Benny Snell, Jr. – for the first time in school history.
UK’s young, improving defense will be challenged by another strong ground attack, as Georgia Tech (8-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) enters the TaxSlayer Bowl ranked 10th nationally at 257.4 yards per game. The Yellow Jackets closed the season with three straight wins, including a 28-27 victory over rival Georgia, under ninth-year head coach Paul Johnson. UK has an all-time record of 7-11-1 vs. Georgia Tech – a member of the SEC from 1932-64 – losing the last time the teams met in 1960, 23-13.