LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky accepted its fourth consecutive bowl bid Sunday and will make an appearance in the Belk Bowl in a noon kickoff on Dec. 31 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops welcomed the invitation from the Belk Bowl. It willl be the team’s first appearance in the postseason event. Kentucky finished 7-5 won its last three games, including an 45-13 rout over rival Louisville in the regular-season finale.
“We’re honored to be invited to the Belk Bowl to play an outstanding opponent in Virginia Tech,” Stoops said. “Our team fought through a lot of adversity this season and I’m proud of our players for earning another bowl bid. It will be exciting to make our first trip to Charlotte and we look forward to seeing the Big Blue Nation join us there.”
Stoops is the fourth coach to lead the Wildcats to four consecutive postseason appearances.
Kentucky defeated Penn State in the Citrus Bowl last year, ending a four-game postseason losing streak for the Wildcats. Rich Brooks guided the Wildcats to bowl appearances from 2006-09. The Wildcats are 9-9 in the postseason.
Like Stoops, Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart is looking forward to playing the Hokies in Charlotte.
“It’s an honor for us to play in this game for the first time and we thank Danny Morrison and the entire Belk Bowl team for selecting UK,” Barnhart said. “Our fourth straight bowl berth is a credit to the dedication of our coaches and players and the support of our fans. We ask the Big Blue Nation to join us in Charlotte and show why we have such a reputation for painting our bowl destinations Kentucky Blue.”
Kentucky has won at least seven games in the past four seasons and used a grinding ground game to reach seven victories this season.
Virginia Tech finished with an 8-4 record and went 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Hokies lost to Virginia 39-30 that knocked them out of the ACC championship game. The Hokies will be making their 27th consecutive appearance in the postseason, a streak that stands as the longest in the nation.
"I'm proud of the way our team battled and competed to earn another bowl berth for Virginia Tech," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. "We enjoyed a fabulous experience during our trip to the Belk Bowl in 2016 and we can't wait to go back. I know our fans will be excited about traveling to support our team in Charlotte."
Kentucky owns a 11-6-2 record over Virginia Tech and hasn’t played the Hokies since a 14-7 victory in Frank Beamer’s first season at the helm of the program in 1987. Virginia Tech defeated the Wildcats 17-15 the previous season in 1986.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.