"It would mean so much to us. Imagine how low we have felt (because of the scandal). It has been very disappointing to me," Bowden said. "I can't tell you how much it would build our happiness or what. We could really use it.
"It won't destroy us if we lose. You can still go recruit and convince kids how much you need them. But we want to win."
So does Brooks.
Second straight trip for Cats
This will be UK's second straight Music City Bowl berth -- and only the 12th bowl appearance in school history. Kentucky is trying to win consecutive bowl games for the first time since the 1950-51 seasons.
"To win it would be unbelievable," Brooks said. "To reward our seniors who have lived through the dark side of Kentucky football and have now seen the light would be great. More importantly, it would establish credibility for our program and help move it forward."
Brooks now expects one of those seniors -- receiver Keenan Burton -- to possibly play Monday. Burton has been limited in practice because of a knee injury and the coach noted Saturday that he didn't think Burton, UK's top receiver, could play. That changed Sunday when Burton told Brooks the knee was better.
"I believe Keenan will be available," Brooks said. "I am not sure how much. We will see how it goes in pregame."
Burton eying the knee
Brooks said Burton told him when the team arrived at LP Field here Sunday that the knee was not as sore or swollen like it was during practice in Lexington before the team came here Wednesday.
"We had the same thing happen to (running back) Rafael Little in fall camp when his knee puffed up and we thought he had a piece of cartilage floating around and then he played whole year without it swelling again," Brooks said.
"We have monitored this thing medically as well as we possibly could. It's very possible he will have to have his knee scoped (after the season). I have about seven or eight other players who are going to have postseason surgery as well. It's not an unusual situation."
Brooks said he will be fine if Burton tells him he can't play.
"I want him to be comfortable with it and told him, 'If you don't feel 100 percent, I don't want you to play.' We will just go from there. Obviously, it is not 100 percent. We suspect there may be some cartilage floating around in there, but we hope he can play because I know what it means to him."
Leger is out
Brooks also knows that another senior, offensive guard Jason Leger, would also like to play. However, he was suspended Saturday for violation of a team rule.
He had started 10 of 12 games this season and was named UK's most outstanding lineman by the coaching staff.
"It is devastating to me personally. Rules are rules," Brooks said. "All our players understand they are held accountable. It's a difficult thing to do on the eve of his last game, but there are consequences (for breaking rules).
"It's not easy sometimes to have a firm hand, but if you don't things can run amok fast."
Brooks will shift Zipp Duncan to Leger's right guard spot and put Christian Johnson, a starter last year, at right guard. The problem is that the primary backup now becomes Jess Beets, a junior college transfer who has played sparingly in only five games.
"We had three experienced players in a rotation and now we are missing one," Brooks said. "Christian Johnson didn't even practice until we got here because of a broken finger. But we will just do the best we can."