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Kentucky singing familiar tune with trip to Music City Bowl

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Call the Music City Bowl the Kentucky Wildcats’ new postseason home.

Here for the third time in four years, Kentucky fans aren’t bored by the familiar scenery. The Wildcats (7-5) can make team history by beating C.J. Spiller and Clemson on Sunday night to win a fourth straight bowl game, and fans have bought more than 15,000 tickets through the school alone.

“Our fans have been great traveling and certainly our biggest successes this year have been on the road,” Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said Saturday. “We’ve had smaller groups because they can’t get enough tickets in SEC stadiums. But our visit against Vanderbilt, I believe we had more white and blue in the stands than Vanderbilt had at a home game.”

Kentucky fans have been here often enough that they know it’s easier to buy tickets through the bowl office than working through the school’s donor list. Brooks said he got an eye-opener here at the 2006 Music City Bowl when he saw so much blue in the stands for his first bowl game with this program.

“I’m just very, very pleased that our fans are in close proximity again and coming to a fourth straight bowl and enjoy not traveling too far,” Brooks said.

Clemson will be without several backups because coach Dabo Swinney suspended four players for missing curfew the first night in town. Assistant athletic director Tim Bourret confirmed that second-string defensive tackles Jamie Cumbie and Rennie Moore won’t play along with third-string tight end Durrell Barry and receiver Kyle Johnson.

Clemson (8-5) gave back some tickets for this game, and a rematch of that 2006 Music City Bowl isn’t what the Tigers expected after winning the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Swinney insists his Tigers will be ready to snap a three-game bowl skid, even though they could have played in a Bowl Championship Series Bowl if not for their 39-34 loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC title game. He said his team focuses on getting better, not worrying about the past despite two losses to end the regular season.

“We played hard. We gave it our best shot. We came up a little short. You move on from that, you try to get better,” Swinney said. “We’re fortunate we have an opportunity that we’ve had a good enough season to play in a bowl game against a really good opponent.”