Vrbo Citrus Bowl #15 Iowa vs #22 Kentucky

Vrbo Citrus Bowl: #15 Iowa vs #22 Kentucky | 2021 NCAAF Betting Analysis

The annual New Year’s Day Citrus Bowl from Orlando pits a Big Ten school vs. an SEC foe, and on Saturday it’s No. 15 Iowa facing No. 22 Kentucky, which is a short favorite on the NCAAF odds.

How to Bet Iowa vs. Kentucky NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, 1 PM ET
  • Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando
  • TV: ABC
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio: Tunein.com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: Kentucky -3 (total 44)

Series History

It’s the first-ever meeting between Iowa and Kentucky. Iowa is 6-5 all-time in bowl games against current Southeastern Conference opponents.

Why Bet on Iowa?

Iowa junior center Tyler Linderbaum has been named first-team All-America by the Associated Press, while senior defensive back Riley Moss and senior kicker Caleb Shudak were named third-team All-America. Along with the consensus All-America status, Linderbaum received the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top center.

Moss ranks 11th in the country and third in the Big Ten with four interceptions. He is tied for 11th in career interceptions (10-239-3 TDs), is one of three players in program history with three interception returns for touchdowns and ranks second in career interception return yards. Iowa leads the country with a school-record 24 interceptions and rank third nationally in takeaways (30). Dane Belton leads the Big Ten and ties for second in the NCAA lead with five interceptions.

Shudak connected on 23-27 field goals and all 34 PAT attempts in 2021, leading the Hawkeyes in scoring with 103 points, the eighth-best single season total in school history.

The Hawkeyes will be without their best offensive player as running back Tyler Goodson opted out to prepare for the draft. Goodson rushed for 1,151 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry in 2021 despite having a young offensive line in front of him. Goodson’s departure will likely thrust redshirt freshman Gavin Williams into a starting role against Kentucky. Williams has been listed as the second-team running back on Iowa’s depth chart. He had 12 carries for 56 yards against No. 2 Michigan in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is one bowl win shy of tying Joe Paterno (10) for most bowl wins as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Ferentz has a 9-8 bowl record and has led Iowa to three straight bowl wins, tying its longest such streak in program history. The Hawkeyes will be making their 34th bowl game appearance and their second Citrus Bowl appearance (formerly the Capital One Bowl). Iowa defeated No. 11 LSU, 30-25, on an improbable Drew Tate-to-Warren Holloway 56-yard touchdown pass as time expired on Jan. 1, 2005. Iowa is 17-15-1 in bowl games overall.

The Hawkeyes have won 15 straight games against non-conference opponents, tied with Kentucky for the longest streak in the nation. Iowa has three wins this season over ranked opponents (vs. #17 Indiana, 34-6; at #9 Iowa State, 27-17; vs. #4 Penn State, 23-20).

Why Bet on Kentucky?

Kentucky is 9-3 for the first time since 2018 and just the third time in the past 44 seasons (1984, 2018, 2021). Offensively, the Wildcats have been guided by quarterback Will Levis, who is completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 2,593 yards and 23 touchdowns. Levis’ top target has been Wan’Dale Robinson, who has 94 catches for 1,164 yards and six TDs. The ground game has been paced by Christopher Rodriguez Jr., who has rushed for 1,272 yards and eight scores. The trio is just the second in school history to reach 2,000 yards passing, 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving in the same season.

Kentucky senior receivers Josh Ali and Isaiah Epps were involved in a car accident earlier this month that will prevent them from playing in the bowl matchup with Iowa. Ali ranks second on the team in catches (41) and receiving yards (601). Epps also spent much of the season as a starter but was limited by an injury down the stretch in the regular season, finishing the year with 11 catches for 171 yards and one touchdown. The injury ends Ali’s Kentucky career with 131 catches for 1,447 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Ali ranks 12th in program history in career receiving yards.

Guided by defensive coordinator Brad White, UK is 10th in the FBS in fourth down defense (38.7%), 36th in tackles for loss (6.4 per game) and 25th in total defense (336.4). Kentucky is 17th nationally in rushing defense (117.2 per game).

UK has won 15 straight non-conference games, dating back to the 2017 Music City Bowl loss to Northwestern. It is tied for the longest such streak in FBS with Iowa.

UK is 11-9 all-time in bowl games. The Cats are appearing in a school-record sixth straight bowl. Kentucky is returning to the Vrbo Citrus Bowl for the second time in the past four seasons, having defeated Penn State, 27-24, on Jan. 1, 2019 to cap a 10-win season

Game Trends

  • Hawkeyes are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS loss.
  • Hawkeyes are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games as an underdog.
  • Hawkeyes are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
  • Wildcats are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 non-conference games.
  • Wildcats are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win.
  • Wildcats are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a favorite.

Expert Prediction

  • Kentucky 23, Iowa 17
 
 

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