The end is near!
We’re now mere hours away from the final game of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ 2022 season. It’s been a year filled with ups and downs, capped with perhaps the most Iowa of gut punches possible - a blowout loss at home on senior day to a miserable rival to cost the Hawkeyes the Big Ten West.
Since Black Friday, we’ve seen a handful of Hawkeyes enter the transfer portal, the best prospect in the history of the state decommit and the starting QB announce plans for shoulder surgery. But it hasn’t been all bad news as Iowa did sign a top-30 class in the country for 2023 and has already landed a pair of high end transfers from Michigan.
But none of that helps today as the Hawkeyes are set to square off with the Kentucky Wildcats in the Music City Bowl without starting QB Spencer Petras (shoulder injury) or his primary backup Alex Padilla (transfer). Iowa is also without starting WR Arland Bruce IV (transfer), oft injured WR Keagan Johnson (transfer) backup RB Gavin Williams (transfer) and strong safety Kaevon Merriweather (NFL Draft) today.
Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, Iowa isn’t the only place with players opting out or heading for the hills. The Wildcats are expected to play today without starting QB Will Levis (NFL Draft), starting RB Chris Rodriguez (NFL Draft), backup RB Kavosiey Smoke (transfer), backup tight ends Keaton Upshaw (transfer), Brendan Bates and Josh Kattus (injury) on offense. On the defensive side of the ball, Kentucky will be without starting CB Carrington Valentine (NFL Draft) and linebacker DeAndre Square (injury). Oh, and Mark Stoops’ bunch will be playing with an interim OC after Rich Scangarello was fired after his only season at the helm.
It’s going to be a wild one!
The Wildcats and Hawkeyes, of course, faced off a season ago in the Citrus Bowl. Kentucky emerged victorious in that one despite the Hawkeyes clinging to a lead with under two minutes to play. But the two teams, which seemed poised to make leaps heading into the year, have instead taken a turn for the worst as this season progressed.
The familiar foes now find themselves facing off once again in a meaningless game with a slew of new faces thrust into starting or key contributing roles. But many of those faces will be back in 2023 and therein lies the only real value remaining in these bowl games (aside from escaping the Iowa weather for a fun getaway around New Year’s). Tickets are sold on hopes and dreams and a win today can go a long way toward building some of that momentum for the upcoming season. It can also do wonders for the development of young players getting their first real experience on New Year’s Eve.
Here’s another look at the details for today’s matchup:
Date: Saturday, December 31st
Time: 11:00 am CT
Matchup: Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 5-4) vs Kentucky Wildcats (7-5, 3-5)
Location: Nissan Stadium - Nashville, TN
TV: ABC, SlingTV
Weather Forecast: cloudy with temps in the upper 50s, 60% chance of rain fading as the day progresses
DraftKings Sportsbook Line: Iowa -2.5, O/U 31
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
If you’re looking for a refresher on the details of today’s game, be sure to check out our coverage from throughout the week, starting with the Game Center.
If you’re on the go and would rather listen to Hawkeye talk, be sure to check out the BHGP podcast feed. There are three new episodes up this week already with more to come today. You can find those wherever you get your podcasts, or by clicking below.