The regular season certainly didn't end the way Kentucky had hoped with the Wildcats dropping games to Georgia 42-13 and instate rival Louisville 44-17, but they are hoping a big finish in the Music City Bowl Dec. 29 in nearby Nashville will give them a good feeling going into the offseason.
"That bad taste in our mouth from that last game hasn't gone away," quarterback Stephen Johnson said. "A lot of us are really trying to go out and get this win.
"Last year, we were really excited because we beat Louisville, our rival, and now we have that bad taste in our mouth, and we are eager and anxious to go and win this last game."
Kentucky's Wildcats (7-5) will go into its meeting with Northwestern's Wildcats (9-3) with proverbial chips on their shoulders.
"I just think we're hungry as a team," wide receiver Charles Walker said. "We've had the week off, we've had players coming in every day watching film, doing workouts, getting their footwork right.
"I think the team is hungry."
A win certainly would lift spirits of the fans.
"I don't think we need to put any unnecessary pressure on ourselves but we do need our fans to help uplift us and we need to uplift our fans," linebacker Courtney Love said. "I think it's going to work hand in hand. We definitely need to just go out and play our best football and be the best team we can be that day.
"During our preparation, do as much as we can to get on these guys and be really prepared and focused to play the game we know how to play."
The game will feature a duel between two of the top rushers in their respective conferences.
Kentucky sophomore Benny Snell Jr. is second in the SEC in rushing with 1,318 yards, his second 1,000-plus season in two years.
Northwestern senior Justin Jackson is third in the Big Ten with 1,154 yards, his fourth consecutive season with over 1,000 yards.
But unlike Kentucky, which was 1-3 in November after its 6-2 start, Northwestern thrived the final month of the regular season. After losing three of its first give games, inlcuding a 41-17 thrashing at Duke the second weekend, Northwestern won seven in a row, including three straight overtime decisions over Iowa, Michigan State, and Nebraska.
Northwestern finished big its last two games, blanking Minnesota 49-0 and giving up just one score in a 42-7 whipping at Illinois.