UK Football Player (via Eric Crawford)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Kentucky football team will ring in the New Year with its third straight bowl trip, facing Penn State in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.

It’ll be third bowl appearance under coach Mark Stoops, who will be seeking his first bowl win. The Wildcats lost in the TaxSlayer Bowl two years ago and in the Music City Bowl last season.

This year, Kentucky goes to a bowl game seeking a 10th victory, which would be just the third in school history and first since 1977.

In the final College Football Playoff rankings, released on Sunday, Kentucky finished ranked No. 14. In the final Associated Press poll, the Wildcats were ranked No. 16, marking the eleventh straight poll in which they have been ranked – the most consecutive weeks in program history. This bowl will be the 18th bowl game in program history

At 9-3, Penn State – which will be playing in its 49th bowl game -- was ranked No. 13 in the final AP poll. After back-to-back midseason losses to Ohio State (27-26) and Michigan State (21-17), the Nittany Lions finished with wins in five of their final six games, with the only blemish a 42-7 setback at Michigan. They allowed only 20 total points in their final three games.

“It’s great going into the bowl game on a high note, there’s no doubt about it but it’s going to be work," coach James Franklin said. "We’re going to play a really good opponent and we’re going to have to find another way to get a W. I don’t think there is any doubt, going into the bowl game off a win, and a convincing win at that, is helpful.”

Kentucky finished the season with back to back wins after losing in consecutive weeks to Georgia and Tennessee.

The Wildcats bounced back with a 34-23 win over Middle Tennessee before pounding rival Louisville 56-10 for their ninth win.

Still to be determined is whether Kentucky will have a couple of key pieces from the 2018 regular season. Neither defensive end Josh Allen nor running back Benny Snell would commit to playing in the bowl appearance after Kentucky’s win at Louisville.

Stoops is on the road recruiting, but Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart is expected to speak with reporters later Sunday to talk about the matchup.

This story will be updated.

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Sports Reporter