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Kentucky vs Iowa Citrus Bowl Picks & Betting Predictions

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 5 mins

Kentucky vs Iowa Citrus Bowl Picks & Betting Predictions

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Kentucky coach Mark Stoops takes on his alma matter for the first time ever, with the former Iowa graduate assistant bringing his Wildcats to face the Hawkeyes at Camping World Stadium in Orlando for the Citrus Bowl.

Iowa won the West division and made it to the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis, where Michigan was waiting to deliver a 42-3 beatdown. Kentucky, meanwhile, is going bowling for the sixth straight season and should have a bit of an edge with this being such a personal game for Stoops.

Let’s take a deeper look into this matchup and what it means from a college football betting perspective.

All college football odds are current as of publication. Betting sites may indicate odds changes closer to kickoff.

Iowa vs. Kentucky Key Matchups

Iowa RBs vs. Kentucky Front Seven: Star Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson is sitting out to prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft, so it’ll be on backups Gavin Williams and Ivory Kelly-Martin to see what they can do. Goodson was the heart and soul of this offense all season and it’s hard to think how bad Iowa might have been without him. If the Hawkeyes can’t establish the run, they’re in serious trouble against a top-level Kentucky defense.

Wan’Dale Robinson vs. Iowa DBs: Robinson is one of the best receivers in the country. He had at least four catches in every game and posted 100-plus receiving yards five times. Going downfield is the best way to move the ball against the Hawkeyes and this will be a huge game for Robinson in terms of targets. The Hawkeyes will have success on defense if they can keep Robinson in check. If not, it might be another ugly showing for Iowa in a marquee game.

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4 Key Stats For Iowa vs. Kentucky

297.5: Average yards per game for the Hawkeyes, among the worst in the country.

46: Points scored by Kentucky on average over the last four games.

19.2: Points per game allowed by Iowa.

+13: Turnover margin for Iowa, second-best in the nation.

RELATED: Ultimate Betting Guide To College Football Bowl Season

Iowa vs. Kentucky Moneyline

Iowa was the moneyline favorite when the line was first posted, but the Hawkeyes are now underdogs on betting apps – likely thanks in part to Goodson’s decision to opt out. Now Kentucky is listed around -155 on the moneyline, while Iowa is sitting at +135.

Bettors are currently favoring Kentucky in terms of point spread, but most of the moneyline bets are coming in on Iowa.

We do like Stoops to get it done in what becomes a massive game due to the personal ties. Iowa is still emotionally deflated from the beatdown in Indianapolis and hasn’t been playing very well since the first loss of the season to the Boilermakers. The Wildcats will get it done.

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Iowa vs. Kentucky Point Spread

Kentucky is up to a -3.5 favorite after opening as a +1.5 underdog at sportsbooks. The Wildcats went 8-4 against the spread this season and although point spread tickets are almost dead even, the vast majority of money is coming in on Kentucky to cover.

This isn’t a good matchup for Iowa in our opinion – Kentucky is a sound defensive team and Iowa has done horribly in similar games. The Hawkeyes managed just 17 points combined in losses to Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan. This one could be ugly and Iowa just doesn’t have the playmakers to outlast its opponent. We're on Kentucky to cover the spread.

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Iowa vs. Kentucky Total

This is one of the lowest totals in the entire bowl game slate and we think that’s justified.

Kentucky has been scoring a ton lately, but we have to consider the competition – no one is going to confuse Vanderbilt or Tennessee for the 1985 Chicago Bears. Iowa will provide a much tougher test for this Wildcats offense and quarterback Will Levis is mistake-prone with 12 interceptions on the year.

On the other side, Iowa’s offense seemed to get worse every week and it’s amazing the Hawkeyes won 10 games while averaging less than 300 yards per game.

Orlando is going to be the happiest place on Earth for those who enjoy bruising, old-school battles of attrition. We’ll be on the Under for this one at Camping World Stadium as one of our college football picks.

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About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.