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The Pants Predicts: Iowa vs. Kentucky in the VRBO Citrus Bowl

Can Iowa get their fourth straight bowl win?

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Louisville
Will the Hawkeyes be the ones hoisting a trophy on Saturday?
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes are set to close out their 2021 season on Saturday as they take on the Kentucky Wildcats in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. This will make the first ever meeting between the two programs with each looking for a fourth straight bow victory.

Iowa comes into this one looking to cleanse the palate after a 42-3 shellacking at the hands of Michigan in the Big Ten Championship while Kentucky closed out the season a week earlier with a 52-21 beat down of Louisville and is riding a 3-game winning streak. Perhaps that’s why, despite Iowa holding a better record overall at 10-3 vs. 9-3, theDraftKings Sportsbook has Kentucky favored by 3 points in a game with an O/U set at 44 total points.

At The Pants, we’re taking Kentucky and the point. On the whole, we’re calling for a final score of Kentucky 21, Iowa 17. It’s worth pointing out that without the rounding, we’re inside of a half point over the spread for Kentucky, not that we’re giving out gambling advice. The 38 total points we’re predicting is well on the under, however.

Here’s a look at our individual predictions.


I want to believe the extra several weeks to prepare means that we see something new and improved on offense. But it is what it is at this point. Spencer Petras will start and he’ll likely make some great throws mixed with some terrible ones while the offensive line struggles to give him any real time. Brian will run outside zone to the boundary into oblivion and I expect Gavin Williams to look decent when there’s any running room. I just don’t trust the offense to get more than 10 points because frankly this season has rubbed me raw to the point I just don’t want to have them miss expectations any more.

Thankfully, the defense is good for two picks against our old friend Will Levis, who has already thrown 12 on the year. I suspect they get the offense a short field off a turnover at least once and probably another time after Taylor gets a signature punt pinned inside the 5. Despite that, I think Kentucky is capable of moving the ball and doing more than the Hawkeye offense.

Kentucky 24, Iowa 20


Gotta be honest - I shifted to basketball mode as soon as Michigan hit that halfback pass in Indy. So I have zero read on this game. None.

Iowa makes no sense as a team. So why not win 11 games on the season with no offense? Makes total sense. 24-21, Hawks. I guess?

Bartt Pierce

I honestly have no idea. How’s that for an “expert” opinion. I think both teams want to be there and win. I’m not very excited about our quarterback situation. I am looking forward to seeing the Williams’ run wild on the Wildcats. Alliteration is fun. I like how Gavin gets North/South compared to Tyler Goodson. Brian, let’s run it back to the Holiday Bowl vs USC. I actually thought we (YOU) had turned a corner with some variety and imagination; I was wrong. Anyway, our defense should show up. Our special teams should show up. Our offense... stay tuned. Also, Tyler Linderbaum, one more year! One more year! Win the freaking Heisman. As always, Go Hawks!

Kentucky 20, Iowa 13


All month I’ve tried to talk myself into a zero expectation game, but as it draws near, my anticipation is rising. All indications point to an ugly game, and I think both teams are fine with that. I know fans have been critical of Iowa’s schedule this season, but the only team Kentucky beat that had a winning regular season was Chattanooga (6-5). Sure there were back-to-back wins over Florida and LSU, but as the season unfolded those were about as impressive as Iowa’s open against Indiana and Iowa State.

The stat that stuck out to me is that despite Kentucky’s staunch defense, they have only created 6 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries. Now, half of those interceptions were then returned for touchdowns. But this isn’t a defense that has been creating a bunch of short fields for their offense. Iowa will need to take care of the ball if this offense has hopes of reaching double digits. You may need a few strong drinks to get through this one...

Kentucky 18, Iowa 16


I’m pretty sure this’ll be the first time Kirk Ferentz and this particular flavor of Stoops have faced off, therefore advantage Kirk.

Iowa 17, Kentucky 13


I’m gonna be honest with y’all. After attending the Big Ten championship, I’ve lost all faith in this team. The quarterback situation has officially reached a point where we have no quarterback. I have no reason to think that anything has changed with the way this game will be called offensively, and I think we’ll see more creativity from Kentucky on the playcalling front. If Iowa does win this, it will be because of the defense, but again, no faith in this team anymore, so I’ll pick Kentucky so I can’t be disappointed.

Kentucky 27, Iowa 13

So yeah, we’re not exactly optimistic about things. What about you? What’s your prediction for Iowa’s final game of the season?