It’s official. Kentucky will play in the 2020-21 Gator Bowl against North Carolina State.
The Kentucky Wildcats are set for a fifth-straight bowl game, as they’ll reportedly face the NC State Wolfpack in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, which takes place Jan. 2nd at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Kickoff is set for noon EST on ESPN.
Stadium reporter Brett McMurphy broke the news first.
Kentucky vs. NC State in Gator Bowl, sources told @Stadium— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 20, 2020
The Wolfpack came in at No. 23 in the final College Football Playoff poll after finishing the regular season 8-3. They are in a bowl game for the sixth time in eight seasons. The Wolfpack is 3-2 in bowl games under head coach Dave Doeren. Their last bowl trip was in 2018 when they lost to Texas A&M 52-13 in the Gator Bowl.
Kentucky, who finished 4-6 in this season’s all-SEC schedule, would normally be ineligible for a bowl after finishing with a record below .500. However, the NCAA did away with the .500 record requirement this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made scheduling and actually playing games a very challenging ordeal.
Thankfully, the Cats were able to play their full schedule, and they’ll be rewarded (well hopefully they feel this way) with a bowl berth. And frankly, had the Cats got to play their original 2020 schedule, they likely go 7-5 or even 8-4, so it’s not like this team isn’t worthy of a bowl despite having just four wins.
The Wildcats have made a bowl game for the fifth-straight year under head coach Mark Stoops. They’re 2-2 in bowl games under his watch, the last being a win over Virginia Tech in the 2020 Belk Bowl. Kentucky actually played in the Gator Bowl in the 2016 season, where they lost 33-18 to Georgia Tech.
This will also be the final game for many departing seniors, including Terry Wilson, Brandin Echols, Max Duffy, Drake Jackson, Landon Young and A.J. Rose among others.
We should also expect to see several players opt out of the bowl game, which is pretty much the case everywhere in this college football postseason outside of teams playing in a major bowl game/College Football Playoff.