Kentucky got a big surprise on Selection Sunday after Alabama’s upset of Georgia in the SEC Championship Game caused quite a bit of shuffling in the bowl selection process. That result combined with Florida State missing out of the College Football Playoff opened up a spot in the New Year’s Six for Ole Miss and gave Kentucky a bowl trip to Florida for the fourth time in six seasons.
After playing Iowa in consecutive seasons, Kentucky drew another familiar foe this postseason. Kentucky has played Clemson three times in the post season facing the Tigers in the Peach Bowl (1993) and twice in the Music City Bowl (2006, 2009). A fourth meeting will occur on Dec. 29 at the Gator Bowl.
That matchup has fans excited. According to Brett McMurphy and Ticket City, the Gator Bowl has seen the fifth biggest ticket demand increase trailing the two College Football Playoff games, a New Year’s Six game, and a Sun Bowl that features Notre Dame.
Bowl opponent matters in the player movement era. Kentucky has seen some players leave the program, but will be close to full strength in Jacksonville when toe meets leather after All-SEC tailback Ray Davis announced that he will be playing in the Gator Bowl. That has the Big Blue Nation excited. On the other side, Clemson will be missing some key pieces.
Nate Wiggins (cornerback), Andrew Mukuba (safety), Jeremiah Trotter Jr. (linebacker), and Ruke Orhorhoro (defensive tackle) are four defensive starters that will not be playing for the Tigers in the Gator Bowl. Beaux Collins (wide receiver) will not be available after entering the transfer portal. The former blue-chip recruit finished the season with 38 receptions for 510 yards and three touchdowns.
That has created some buzz for this game in the Bluegrass, but we likely see a strong Clemson turnout at this postseason game since it is only a six-hour drive to Jacksonville from campus.
The anticipation is building for another Kentucky vs. Clemson non-conference game.