After seeming like it was a lifetime away, we’re now into the final game week of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ 2021 season as they head to the VRBO Citrus Bowl to take on the #22 Kentucky Wildcats from the SEC.
Kentucky, coached by former Hawkeye Bob Stoops, enters the matchup having won their final three regular season games and second in the SEC East standings behind only #3 Georgia. On the year, the Wildcats averaged an impressive 33.3 points per game with wins over Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, LSU and Vanderbilt in conference play. They closed out the year with a 52-21 demolition of in-state rival Louisville in their final game.
Now Kentucky is set to face off with the Iowa Hawkeyes and a totally different team composition. Iowa enters their final game of the season averaging just 23.9 points per game on the season, aided by a number of defensive and special teams touchdowns. They’ll face off against the 24th best team defense in the nation as the Wildcats have held opponents to 22.1 points per game on the yaer.
The Hawkeye defense has been stingy despite the beatdown by Michigan in the Big Ten Championship dropping them to 15th in total defense. They continue to lead the nation in interceptions with 24 on the year. The Wildcats, on the other hand, have thrown 12 interceptions on the year.
As we prepare for the final Hawkeye football game of the 2021 season, here’s a look at the details of this Citrus Bowl matchup.
Date: Saturday, January 1st
Time: 12:00pm CT
Matchup: #22 Kentucky Wildcats (9-3, 5-3) vs. #15 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-3, 8-2)
Location: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
DraftKings Betting Line: Kentucky -3, O/U 44*
The Hawkeyes and Wildcats are set to face off for the first time in the history of the two programs. Iowa has a longer history of success with 13 conference championships and 33 all-time bowl appearances to go with a .543 all-time winning percentage. In its history, Kentucky is just over .500 at .501 all-time. The Wildcats have 20 all-time bowl wins and two conference championships. The last of which came in 1976. In their only other conference title season, 1950, the Wildcats also won the national championship under legendary head coach Bear Bryant.
Now, Kentucky is coached by another talented coach in Mark Stoops, who is in his 6th year as head coach of the Wildcats. Stoops, of course, is one of the famed Stoops brothers to play for Iowa’s legendary Hayden Fry in the ‘80s. Mark was a defensive back for the Hawkeyes in the late ‘80s before starting his coaching career as a grad assistant for Fry in 1990.
Both teams enter this week’s matchup having won their last three bowl games. Stoops is 3-2 all-time in bowl games with wins over North Carolina State in the 2020 Gator Bowl, Virginia Tech in the 2019 Belk Bowl and Penn State in the 2018 Citrus Bowl. Ferentz holds a 9-8 career record in bowl games. Iowa’s last appearance in the Citrus Bowl came before the current iteration. In 2004, Iowa defeated LSU in what was then called the Capital One Bowl in the famed Tate-to-Holloway game.