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Kentucky Wildcats being eyed for Liberty Bowl

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Apparently Liberty Bowl officials have been keeping an eye on Kentucky, and they like what they see.

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

This season has been a rare occasion when Big Blue Nation could rest easy knowing the Kentucky Wildcats are headed to a bowl game, even as early as October.

Of course, as soon as a team becomes bowl eligible speculation begins about where they may end up. It seems that at least one bowl has had its eye on Kentucky even before the season began.

In an interview with Joe Mussatto of SEC Country, Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart talked about his interest in bringing the Wildcats back to Memphis after almost a decade. He indicates that the conversation of the Wildcats playing in the Liberty Bowl actually began this spring when he was in town to see Kentucky host Florida in basketball.

“John (Calipari’s) been a great friend over the years,” Ehrhart said. “I had a chance to say hello to the president and to Mitch Barnhart and say, ‘Hey, it’s about time for Kentucky.'”

The Liberty Bowl is included in the “pool of six,” which is a group of bowls that always include SEC teams. The others in this group include the Music City Bowl, Outback Bowl, Belk Bowl, Taxslayer Bowl, and the Texas Bowl. Kentucky has not played in the Liberty Bowl since 2008, when they beat East Carolina 25-19.

Memphis is well within driving distance for many UK fans, and Ehrhart is aware of how well Big Blue Nation travels. That is a big part of why he is interested in the Wildcats.

“We’ve certainly been keeping a close eye on Kentucky,” Ehrhart said, “and they would certainly be an excellent candidate for all those reasons.”

The only downside to playing in the Liberty Bowl is that the Kentucky-Louisville basketball game could conflict with fans’ travel plans for the bowl game. The basketball game tips off at 1 p.m. on December 29th in Rupp Arena and the Liberty Bowl begins at 12:30 p.m. the next day in Memphis. That could impact Kentucky fans’ ability to travel to Memphis, as I have a hunch taking on the Cardinals in Rupp might be a higher priority.

Here’s a look back at Kentucky’s Liberty Bowl win over East Carolina in 2008:

Would you be in favor of the Cats playing in the Liberty Bowl?