BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Pittsburgh and Kentucky will meet in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 8.
Pittsburgh (7-5) finished in a three-way tie for the Big East title, but the Panthers still had a disappointing season after opening ranked 15th and favored to win the league.
Kentucky (6-6) lost to Tennessee in its regular-season finale and won only two SEC games. The Wildcats have been to five straight bowls, and this marks the first time since 1909-13 that the Wildcats have notched at least six wins in five consecutive seasons.
Joker Phillips is also the first Kentucky head coach to go to a bowl game in his debut season.
"It will be a huge challenge and an exciting time for our football program to play in the BBVA Compass Bowl," Phillips said. "I've had a chance to watch Pitt numerous times. Their running attack is very strong and their quarterback (Tino Sunseri) has completed more than 65 percent of his passes.
"I know coach (Dave) Wannstedt is a defensive-minded coach. They rank 11th in the nation (in total defense), so they will be great on defense."
This is Kentucky's third bowl game in Birmingham's Legions Field. Phillips played in the Hall of Fame Bowls in both 1983 and 1984 against West Virginia and Wisconsin.
"As we continue to grow our football program at Kentucky, it is our privilege to be invited to the BBVA Compass Bowl," Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said. "We are excited to play in Birmingham, the home of the Southeastern Conference office and a historic stadium at Legion Field, and have the opportunity for our players, coaches, families and fans to enjoy a city that has a great football tradition and a place in our nation's history."
The Big East's representative has won all four previous bowl games in Birmingham, formerly the PapaJohns.com Bowl. That includes last year's 20-7 Connecticut victory over South Carolina.
"We greatly appreciate the opportunity to represent the Big East Conference in this year's BBVACompass Bowl," said Steve Pederson, Pittsburgh's athletic director. "The city of Birmingham has done an exceptional job growing this game into a great event," Pittsburgh athletic director Steve Pederson said. "We look forward to some tremendous southern hospitality and the chance to square off against an SEC opponent in January."