Vrbo Citrus Bowl: Iowa vs Kentucky
The 17th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes prepare to take on the 25th ranked Kentucky Wildcats in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl at 1:00 PM ET on New Years Day. The Hawkeyes enter the game coming off a 39 point loss to Michigan in the Big ten championship game after winning their second ever Big Ten West title. The Kentucky Wildcats, meanwhile, are coming off a second place finish in the SEC East and their best season since 2018. Kentucky is currently favored to win by 3 with a -148 number on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 44.5. This will be the first time Iowa and Kentucky have played each other in football.
Iowa vs Kentucky Betting Odds
Oklahoma St vs Notre Dame Betting Trends
Hawkeyes are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS loss
Hawkeyes are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall
Hawkeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games
Wildcats are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 non-conference games
Wildcats are 21-7-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
Wildcats are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games as a favorite
Iowa Hawkeyes Betting Odds
Like many of their Big ten West counterparts, Iowa is best at defending the run. Allowing just 113.8 yards a game on the ground, the Hawkeyes rank 3rd in the Big ten and 13th in the country against the run. Against the pass they rank sixth in the Big ten, allowing 213 yards a game on 6.3 yards a play. Their red zone defense ranks 107th out of 130 FBS teams, allowing scores on over 89 percent of opponent red zone drives.
Offensively, the Hawkeyes rank second to last in the Big ten in yards per game. They have a below average passing attack led by Junior QB Spencer Petras who has thrown for 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 11 games this season. RB Tyler Goodson leads the Hawkeyes on the ground — rushing for over 1,100 yards and 6 touchdowns on 4.5 yards a carry this season.
The Hawkeyes have won 4 out of their last 5 , with the sole loss coming to Michigan in the Big Ten championship game. Their two other losses came earlier in the season to Purdue and Wisconsin by 17 and 20 points, respectively.
Kentucky Wildcats Betting Odds
Like the Hawkeyes, the Wildcats are led by their run defense. Allowing just 113.8 rushing yards a game, Kentucky ranks fourth in the SEC and 11th in the nation against the run — slightly edging Iowa. Their pass defense ranks seventh in the SEC, allowing 219.3 yards a game on 7.1 yards a play. Their red zone defense is 115th out of 130 FBS teams, allowing scores on 90.3 percent of opponent red zone drives.
On offense the Wildcats are led by Junior RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. who has rushed for 1,272 yards and 8 touchdowns on 6.1 yards a carry this year. Overall, their running games ranks fifth in the SEC and 13th in the country at 215.5 yards a game. Their passing game, meanwhile, ranks 10th in the SEC in overall production, averaging 222.4 yards and 2 touchdowns a game. While they rank 72nd in the FBS in passing yards, Kentucky starting QB Will Levis is tied for 29th in college football with 23 passing touchdowns this season.
After starting the season 6-0, the Wildcats dropped 3 of their last 6 games including losses to unranked Tennessee and Mississippi State. They’ve struggled most against teams with dynamic quarterback play, and have had the most success against teams who struggle to defend the run.
Iowa vs Kentucky Picks & Prediction
Defensively, Kentucky and Iowa play a very similar brand of football. Both teams are elite at defending the run, pretty average against the pass, and downright bad in the red zone. Offensively, Kentucky has the edge in nearly every phase. Will Levis is significantly better than Spencer Petras at quarterback and Chris Rodriguez Jr. is better than any running back on the Hawkeyes. Kentucky’s kryptonite this year has been teams with effective quarterback play, and Iowa isn’t one of these teams. Both teams are going to want to run the ball in this one and both teams are going to struggle to do so. I like this to be a low scoring game that comes down to a few “must pass” situations that Kentucky is much more well equipped to capitalize on than Iowa. The over/under is already sitting really low at 44.5, so I’d either pass entirely on it or bet the under.
My Pick: Kentucky wins and covers (20-14) and the under hits (u44.5)