Following Saturday's disheartening loss to Tennessee, the University of Kentucky football team has no choice but to continue moving forward.

With three more games remaining on the schedule, the Wildcats -- who fell to 4-5 overall after the 17-13 defeat to the Volunteers -- will need to come away with at least two victories to become bowl eligible for the fourth straight season.

All three matchups are winnable, too. UK will travel to take on Vanderbilt this Saturday, followed by a home contest against FCS opponent UT Martin before closing out the year against rival Louisville at Kroger Field in Lexington.

Most college football experts around the country expect the Cats to reach the postseason, as well.

Among the possible landing spots for Kentucky are two bowl games that couldn't be further from each other on the familiarity spectrum.

According to projections from ESPN's Mark Schlabach, CBS Sports' Jerry Palm and 247Sports' Brad Crawford, the Cats are expected to once again return to the Music City Bowl in Nashville -- set for Dec. 20 at the Tennessee Titans' Nissan Stadium.

Pitted against a foe from the ACC, potential UK opponents include Virginia (7-3, 5-2 in ACC) or Miami (6-4, 4-3), who are battling for the ACC Coastal Division lead.

Another appearance in the Music City Bowl -- Kentucky has played there five times already, including in 2017 -- would mean a quick trip down the road for the Wildcats and their fans. It would also be a chance for the Cats to improve to 3-3 in Music City Bowl competition.

However, a Nashville destination isn't a forgone conclusion.

Of course, UK won't be picky about its bowl prospects. The Cats just want to win the games needed to get there.

For SEC teams that don't reach the national playoffs or one of the New Year's Six bowls -- LSU, Alabama and Georgia are likely locks -- the Citrus Bowl gets first pick of eligible SEC programs. Florida is considered the favorite for that invitation.

After that, the Belk, Gator, Liberty, Music City, Outback and Texas bowls will get one SEC team apiece.

For Kentucky, which is 2-5 in conference play and sits in sixth place in the SEC's East Division, another possible outcome is the Belk Bowl on Dec. 31 at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Sports Illustrated, The Athletic and ESPN's Kyle Bonagura all expect UK to end up at the Belk Bowl -- a place that the Cats have never competed. Again, Kentucky would face an ACC opponent such as Virginia Tech, Miami or Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, USA Today predicts UK to play in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis against the Big 12's Kansas State.

The Sporting News picked the Cats for the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, to face the ACC's North Carolina.

No matter where Kentucky ends up, however, the Wildcats will be thankful for the opportunity. It's been a tumultuous season, to say the least, but UK has done an admirable job so far of moving past all of the distractions.

Now, all the Cats have to do is get there.

Though the last three contests of the regular season are all winnable, nothing is guaranteed in college football. UK still has to go out and perform.

According to Kentucky coach Mark Stoops -- who's stressed time and time again that his team's only concern is with the game at hand, and not potential bowl games down the line -- the Cats are "close" to getting where they want to be.

"Again, we are not perfect, and we've got to find a way," Stoops said this week. "That's not some coaching cliché. We are close. A play here, a play there against some very good teams, but I can promise you, they're all battling."

The Cats need to keep battling to reach another bowl game, and then who knows? Whether it's nearby Nashville or unfamiliar Charlotte, UK doesn't have a preference.

But Stoops is right. The Cats are, indeed, close.

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