Kentucky and Northwestern will meet in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 29 in Nashville, Tenn. It’ll be a Wildcats vs. Wildcats matchup.
The Music City Bowl had been the likely landing spot for the Wildcats, and it was officially announced on Sunday afternoon.
“Kentucky has a long history with this game,” UK coach Mark Stoops said in a release, “and fans love going to Nashville. Taking on Northwestern will be a great challenge and we look forward to an exciting game.”
The Cats are 2-2 in the Music City Bowl. They lost to Syracuse in 1999, beat Clemson in 2006 and Florida State in 2007 and lost to Clemson in 2009.
Kentucky is going bowling in back-to-back seasons after missing out on the postseason from 2011-15. The Wildcats finished the 2017 regular season 7-5 with a 4-4 mark in the SEC. Northwestern, coached by Pat Fitzgerald, finished 9-3 and 7-2 in the Big Ten.
Northwestern is one of the hottest teams in the country. The Wildcats reeled off seven consecutive wins to finish the regular season. Northwestern’s Big Ten slate started with back-to-back losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. The loss to Penn State on Oct. 7 was the last time Northwestern was defeated.
Northwestern recorded wins against Nevada, Bowling Green, Maryland, Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois. Three of those wins — against the Hawkeyes, Spartans and Cornhuskers — came in three consecutive overtime games.
The Music City Bowl will mark the second all-time meeting between Kentucky and Northwestern. Evanston, Ill., was the site of the first matchup that ended in a 7-0 Northwestern win.
Mark Stoops is set to complete his fifth season as Kentucky’s head coach. He earned a one-year contract extension for leading the Wildcats to seven wins this season.
Kentucky lost to Georgia Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl last season. The Cats will be looking for a different result in Nashville, where they hope a significant scheduling conflict doesn’t hurt ticket sales and the traveling party.
“The Big Blue Nation has made Nashville a second home for us and fan support is going to be so important as our team works for its eighth win,” athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in the official release. “December 29 is going to be a big day for the University of Kentucky.”
The Kentucky men’s basketball team faces Louisville at 1 p.m. ET at Rupp Arena. The Music City Bowl starts at 4:30 p.m. ET at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Barnhart addressed the potential time conflict last month.
“You can think of it as a bad thing, you can think of it as a good thing,” he said then. “Our fan base is remarkable. There’s 24,000 seats in Rupp Arena and we’ve got a lot more fans than that. So, we’ll be fine.”
The Music City Bowl will be broadcast on ESPN.
Past Music City Bowl matchups
2016: Tennessee 38, Nebraska 24
2015: Louisville 27, Texas A&M 21
2014: Notre Dame 31, LSU 28
2013: Ole Miss 25, Georgia Tech 17
2012: Vanderbilt 38, NC State 24
2011: Mississippi State 23, Wake Forest 17
2010: North Carolina 30, Tennessee 27 (2OT)