Final Kentucky Bowl Projections: Clemson and the Gator Bowl are on the table

On3 imageby:Nick Roush12/03/23


The final month of the regular season teed up Kentucky to return to Charlotte for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Even after upsetting No. 9 Louisville, the postseason pecking order was clear. Then conference championship weekend happened.

Most of college football’s prominent players remained unscathed in the top of the polls until the final weekend of the regular season. When Alabama defeated Georgia in the SEC Championship, it created a logjam for the fourth spot. The three teams vying to compete for a title and their brief arguments:

  • Alabama: Snapped Georgia’s 29-game win streak and only lost one game in September, to Texas.
  • Texas: Only lost one game, beat Bama on the road and steam-rolled its competition in the final month of the season.
  • Florida State: An undefeated Power Five Conference Champ has never been left out of the CFB Playoff, but their offense has been anemic without their starting QB.

The CFB Playoff Committee will deliberate until the final rankings are revealed at noon. What they decide could move Kentucky out of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Here’s how.

Florida State Out of the Playoff Moves Kentucky Up

The top ACC team that is not in the CFB Playoff automatically earns a bid to the Orange Bowl. Louisville fans are crossing their fingers the committee is kind to the team that just handed them their second straight loss. Kentucky fans probably want the opposite to happen.

If Florida State is out of the Playoff and in the Orange Bowl, it opens a spot in the New Year’s Six for an at-large bid. The current team ranked No. 11 in the CFB Playoff Rankings is Ole Miss. If they earn a New Year’s Six berth, every SEC team moves up a slot.

LSU would likely take the Citrus Bowl and Tennessee would slide into the Outback ReliaQuest Bowl. That leaves only four bowl eligible SEC teams for six bowl games. After playing in Nashville, the Music City Bowl is out of contention. The Texas Bowl in Houston is most likely reserved for Texas A&M, paving the way for Kentucky to return to Jacksonville for the third time since 2016.

There is one thing that could stop this scenario from happening. Even though Oklahoma and Ole Miss were idle, the Sooners’ victory over Texas looks better now than ever. The committee could shift the order and put Oklahoma ahead of Ole Miss, keeping the the Rebels out of the New Year’s Six and maintaining the bowl status quo for SEC teams.

Clemson in Contention for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Ahead of conference championship weekend, KSR learned that a Georgia victory would likely put Virginia Tech in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. An Alabama win would send Duke to the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. That sentiment was shared by Scott Dochterman of The Athletic who substituted Duke for Virginia Tech in his overnight bowl projections.

Outside of Dochterman, Brett McMurphy serves as the other top bowl prognosticator in the sport. He updated his projections for the Action Network overnight to create a matchup between Kentucky and Clemson in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. The two programs have played against one another in three bowl games, most recently in the 2009 Music City Bowl.

Final Projections

The CFB Playoff will be announced at noon, followed by the New Year’s Six an hour later. Bowl destinations will be finalized throughout the afternoon.

Action Network: Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs. Clemson
The Athletic: Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs. Duke
CBSSports: Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs. Duke
ESPN: Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs. North Carolina or Virginia Tech
247Sports: Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs. Virginia Tech
Athlon: Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs. Virginia Tech
Bleacher Report: Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs. North Carolina

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