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Former Kentucky player, assistant Anwar Stewart returns as DL coach

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A very familiar face has returned to the Kentucky Wildcats football family.

Anwar Stewart, the program announced Friday, has been named by Mark Stoops as the Wildcats’ new defensive line coach.  Stewart replaces Derrick LeBlanc, who left to take a job at Arkansas.

Not only did Stewart (pictured, No. 55) play his college football at Kentucky from 1996-99, he was also a defensive assistant at his alma mater in 2017-18.

“It’s great when we can bring back former players and I’m excited to have Anwar rejoin our staff,” the Kentucky Wildcats football head coach said in a statement. “I loved the energy and juice Anwar brought to the team during his previous time here. He has been a player and coach on both the pro and college levels, so our players will benefit from his wide range of experience.”

Stewart spent the 2019 season as the defensive line coach at Appalachian State.

A CFL player for 13 seasons after leaving Kentucky, Stewart began his coaching career with the Montreal Alouettes.  After three seasons with the CFL team, Stewart returned to UK to both work with his old football program and finish his degree at the university.

“I’m very excited to return to where it all started for me,” Stewart said. “Coach Stoops is doing it better than it’s ever been done before at UK. I know his vision and I know what it takes to coach under him. I’m excited to learn from Coach Stoops, Coach (Brad) White and the other coaches on the staff. I know I will grow as a man and as a father as well.”

Kentucky’s second-leading rusher announces return in 2020

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One of Kentucky’s top running backs from the 2019 season will play one more season in Lexington. AJ Rose announced with a statement on his Twitter account on Thursday afternoon confirming he will suit up for Kentucky again next fall.

“Although playing in the NFL has always been my dream, I have decided to return for my senior year and help my brothers compete for the East and a SEC championship,” Rose said in his statement. “The Big Blue Nation is the best fan base in the country and you’ve always supported me and my back,” Rose added in his message to Kentucky fans.

Rose was Kentucky’s second-leading rusher in 2019 with 826 yards and six touchdowns. Rose will be a part of a talented running back unit for the Wildcats next season as Kentucky hopes to move their way up in the SEC East. Freshmen Kavosiey Smoke and Chris Rodriguez will combine with Rose for a strong three-man running combo.

Lynn Bowden Jr. powers Kentucky to wild Belk Bowl win over Virginia Tech

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For Virginia Tech and Bud Foster, the Belk Bowl didn’t provide the storybook ending they wanted to see.

Following a chippy first half, a last-minute touchdown pass powered Kentucky to a 37-30 win over Tech in the 18th Belk Bowl.  This will also be the final Belk Bowl as the title sponsor confirmed earlier this year that they were pulling out of the postseason game after 2019.

Lynn Bowden Jr., who began the season as a wide receiver before moving to quarterback due to injuries, connected with Josh Ali from 13 yards with 15 seconds left for the game-winning score.  It was Bowden’s sixth completion of the game and just his third touchdown pass on the season.

It was Bowden’s legs, though, that propelled UK to the win.

Bowden, who previously announced he’s leaving early for the NFL, ran for 233 yards and two touchdowns in the win.  The senior broke Johnny Manziel‘s record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a bowl game. This was the sixth-straight game Bowden, named the Hornung Award winner as the nation’s most versatile player, has rushed for at least 100 yards.  In the regular-season finale against Louisville, Bowden put up 284.

The final margin was provided by Jordan Wright‘s 28-yard fumble return for a touchdown with no time left on the clock.

In a losing effort, Tech’s Deshawn McClease ran for 126 yards on just 11 carries.  Hendon Hooker also passed for a pair of touchdowns, with both of those coming in the first half.

Tech, incidentally, became the first team to score 30 or more points on Kentucky this season.

As for Foster, it was his last game as the Hokies’ defensive coordinator after 33 seasons at the school.  The school announced in August that Foster would be stepping down.

Foster began his three decades-plus tenure with the Hokies as inside linebackers coach in 1987.  In 1995, Foster was promoted to defensive coordinator, a post he’s held for the past 24 seasons.  He also continued coaching the team’s linebackers.

With the win, Kentucky improved to 8-5 on the season.  They now have 18 wins on the season, the most in any two-year stretch since 1976-77.

Virginia Tech finished the year 8-5 as well in Justin Fuente‘s fourth season at the school.

Pregame punches thrown as Kentucky, Virginia Tech hit halftime of chippy Belk Bowl

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To say that things are a little chippy at this year’s Belk Bowl would be a bit of an understatement.

Prior to this afternoon’s matchup between Virginia Tech and Kentucky, starting UK quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. was caught on video throwing a punch on VT defensive tackle DaShawn Crawford.  It was also reported that a punch was thrown at Bowden as well.

Myriad players had to be separated multiple times in the run-up to kickoff.  These dustups were preceded by an altercation at Charlotte Motor Speedway during an event involving both teams.  That altercation continued on social media in the days leading up to the bowl game.

Despite all of the pregame huffing and puffing and punching, there were no penalties assessed on anyone involved.

The chippiness continued on into the early portion of the game, with the Wildcats penalized 15 yards twice on the opening drive — one a personal foul, the other roughing the passer.

As far as the game goes, Tech has taken a 17-14 lead into the halftime locker room.  UK has 181 yards of offense; Bowden has accounted for 136 of those (90 rushing, 46 passing).

Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker has tossed a pair of touchdown passes the first two quarters.

College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 31 Viewer’s Guide

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Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at the Dec. 31 bowl menu, one that features two teams each from the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12.

WHO: Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5)
WHAT: The 18th Belk Bowl
WHERE: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Kentucky, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Florida State (6-6) vs. Arizona State (7-5)
WHAT: The 82nd Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
WHERE: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on CBS
THE LINE: Florida State, +4½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Navy (10-2) vs. Kansas State (8-4)
WHAT: The 61st AutoZone Liberty Bowl
WHERE: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 3:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Kansas State, +2½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Wyoming (7-5) vs. Georgia State (7-5)
WHAT: The 5th NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
WHERE: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
BUY TICKETS: Click Here

THE SKINNY: A member of the Mountain West Conference has won three of the first four playings of this bowl, with the lone loss coming in overtime. … As 26-point underdogs, Georgia State began the 2019 season with a stunning win over Tennessee in Knoxville. That same weekend, Wyoming upset UT’s SEC East compatriots, Missouri. … Both teams enter the postseason, though, having lost three of their last four games. … Four of the Cowboys’ five losses this season have come by five or fewer points.  Four of the Eagles’ five losses this season have come by 14 or more points. … If the passing game is your thing, look elsewhere.  Georgia State is 93rd nationally in passing at 201.8 yards per game.  That’s a veritable aerial circus compared to Wyoming, which is 125th (out of 130 schools) at 128 ypg. … The two teams have combined for 29 passes touchdowns; an even dozen individual quarterbacks have thrown for more scores than that this season. … The Eagles average 245.2 yards rushing per game, while the Cowboys give up less than a hundred per contest.  Their 99.4 yards per game is sixth-fewest in the country. … NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl fun fact: The past two games have gone into overtime, while the first was decided by just five points.  We won’t mention Air Force’s 24-point drubbing of South Alabama in 2016.
THE LINE: Georgia State, +7
THE PREDICTION: Wyoming 14, Georgia State 13

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WHO: Utah (11-2) vs. Texas (7-5)
WHAT: The 27th Valero Alamo Bowl
WHERE: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Texas, +7
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.