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Dec 31, 2021

Citrus Bowl Picks, Predictions and Odds: Iowa vs. Kentucky

Jan. 1, 2022
Jonathan Willis
VI Betting Expert
VegasInsider.com

A Big 10-SEC Showdown is set for this year's Citrus Bowl as the Iowa Hawkeyes take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Opening kick is set for 1:00 p.m. ET and will air on ABC from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

Score Prediction

Kentucky 24, Iowa 17

Best Bets

Kentucky +3 (-110) at DraftKings

Citrus Bowl Predictions

The Iowa Hawkeyes might get a glimpse of their future in the Citrus Bowl. Mark Stoops has strong ties to Iowa, and there has been plenty of speculation that the Kentucky Wildcats’ head coach will replace Kirk Ferentz whenever he decides to call it quits. Ferentz is the longest tenured coach in college football, so that is expected to come sooner rather than later.

The SEC hasn’t fared well this bowl season. Coming into the College Football Playoff semifinals, the SEC is 1-5 in bowl games this year. That has some predicting an Iowa upset, but this is a great matchup for Kentucky. The Wildcats match up very well with the Hawkeyes, and they should be able to shut this offense down in a game that doesn’t see a lot of scoring.

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Citrus Bowl Betting Odds

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Citrus Bowl Betting Resources

  • Matchup: Big 10 vs. SEC
  • Date: Saturday, January 1, 2021
  • Venue: Camping World Stadium
  • Location: Orlando, Florida
  • TV-Time: ABC, 1:00 p.m. ET

Iowa Hawkeyes Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 10-3
  • ATS: 7-6
  • O/U: 6-7

It looks like Spencer Petras will be the starting quarterback for Iowa in the Citrus Bowl. Petras gave way to Alex Padilla over the tail end of the season, but Petras is more experienced than Padilla. Petras completed 56.6% of his passes for 6.5 YPA this season, while Padilla completed just 49.1% of his passes for 5.7 YPA this season.

Standout running back Tyler Goodson declared for the NFL Draft and won’t be taking part in this game. Oft-injured senior Ivory Kelly-Martin is listed as the No. 1 running back with Goodson out, but Iowa’s ground game hasn’t been as strong as we have seen in recent years. Center Tyler Linderbaum was a First Team All-Big Ten selection, and Kyler Schott was a Second Team All-Big Ten choice at guard, but the tackle play wasn’t great.

Tight end Sam LaPorta is the only real threat in the passing game. LaPorta is arguably the best tight end in the Big Ten, and he had 46 receptions for 548 yards and two touchdowns this season. Freshman Keagan Johnson is the second leading receiver, but he has just three catches for 36 yards in his last three games.

Iowa ranks fourth in Defensive SP+. The Hawkeyes lead the nation in takeaways, and that has been the key to their success. Defensive backs Dane Belton and Riley Moss were both First Team All-Big Ten picks, and Zach VanValkenburg is a Second Team All-Big Ten choice.

Kentucky Wildcats Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 9-3
  • ATS: 8-4
  • O/U: 8-4

The Wildcats have a much better offense than the Hawkeyes. Penn State transfer Will Levis has done a solid job moving the chains in this offense, completing 66.5% of his passes for 2,593 yards (8.0 YPA) with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Levis has been able to make things happen with his legs too, averaging 4.2 YPC with nine TDs.

Another Big Ten transfer played a huge part in Kentucky’s strong season. Former Nebraska receiver Wan’Dale Robinson was one of the most exciting players in the country with 94 receptions for 1,164 yards and seven touchdowns. Josh Ali was the second-leading receiver with 41 catches for 601 yards and three scores, but no one else on the Wildcats had more than 185 receiving yards.

This ground game is paced by Chris Rodriguez Jr. Rodriguez has run for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns and is averaging 6.2 YPC, and Kavosiey Smoke is averaging 5.1 YPC as the No. 2 back.

Kentucky ranks 18th in total defense. The Wildcats are allowing just 337 YPG, and they have a strong front seven. Defensive end Josh Paschal was a Second Team All-SEC pick, and J.J. Weaver can get to the quarterback.

Inside the Stats - Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Record: 10-3
  • VI Ranking: 17
  • Points Scored: 311
  • Points Allowed: 249
  • PS/G: 23.9 (96th)
  • PA/G: 19.2 (14th)

Inside the Stats - Kentucky Wildcats

  • Record: 9-3
  • VI Ranking: 25
  • Points Scored: 400
  • Points Allowed: 265
  • PS/G: 33.3 (28th)
  • PA/G: 22.1 (31st)

Key Players to Watch

  • IOWA: Alex Padilla - QB (55/112, 636 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT)
  • IOWA: Sam Laporta - TE (46 catches, 548 yards, 2 TD)
  • UK: Will Levis - QB (216/325, 2,593 yards, 32 Total TDs, 12 INT)
  • UK: Christopher Rodriguez, Jr. - RB (205 carries, 1,271 yards, 9 TD)

Citrus Bowl Betting Conclusion

The Wildcats will be able to shut down Iowa’s sputtering offense pretty easily, and that will lead to a Kentucky win in a game that goes under the total.

Citrus Bowl Betting Trends

  • Kentucky has covered the spread in two straight games.
  • Kentucky has gone UNDER the point total in eight of its last nine games when facing an AP-ranked school.
  • Iowa has failed to cover the spread in five of its last seven games.


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