At first glance it would seem like Iowa has some value as +3.5 underdogs in 2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl betting. The Hawkeyes (10-3) were up to #2 in the country at one point this season and finished the regular season on a 4-game win streak to make it to the Big Ten Championship Game where they were clobbered 42-3 by Michigan. Iowa has some severe questions on offense coming into this matchup though.
Kentucky on the other hand is very stable on the offensive side of the football and made it to 9-3 on the season even while playing in the SEC. UK got up to #11 in the rankings at one point, and are the more balanced of the two squads squaring off at Camping World Stadium in Orlando for a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Iowa Facing Major Offensive Questions
2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl betting is a throwback matchup featuring two teams that (try to) run the ball and play defense. The Hawkeyes’ offensive line wasn’t as dominant this season as in year’s past, with Iowa being the 4th worst rushing team in the Big Ten with 119.8 yards/game.
One of the reasons the Hawkeyes struggled to run the ball was because opposing defenses can stack the box due to there being no threat to pass the ball. QB Spencer Petras completes just 56.6% of his passes and has a mere 9 TDs to 6 INT in 11 games. Alex Padilla also saw some snaps but completed just 49.1% of his throws over 8 games of action.
It’s a testament to how good of a runner Tyler Goodson is that he was able to amass 1,151 yards rushing on the season despite there being no threat in the Iowa passing game. Goodson is opting out of the bowl game though as he has declared for the NFL draft, and backup Gavin Williams had just 207 yards on the season.
Kentucky’s Defense Gets a Break
The Wildcats defense ranked 26th in total yards in the regular season (337.2), an impressive feat considering they played the likes of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi State who all averaged over 30 ppg on the season. Playing against those explosive SEC foes and then turning around to match up with the clunky Hawkeyes offense should seem like an easy task for UK.
The real test for Kentucky on Saturday afternoon is going to be against Iowa’s defense. The Hawkeyes had the #3 defense in the Big Ten, but the Wildcats seem to be up to the task. QB Will Levis completed 66.5% of his passes and had 23 TD to 12 INTs on the year. Levis had a 372 and a 419 yard passing performance over the last month of the season, and also added 9 total rushing TDs on the year.
Unlike Iowa (without Goodson) Kentucky has balance on offense too as Chris Rodriguez, Jr. ran for 1,271 yards on the season. Even Kaviosey Smoke added 406 yards rushing so UK can wear down the Hawkeyes defense which will be key in the 4th quarter.
Free 2021 Vrbo Citrus Bowl Betting Pick
Kentucky opened as a +1 point underdog in this matchup, but they are up to -3.5 mainly on the news that Goodson is opting out for Iowa. That doesn’t leave the Hawkeyes with a whole lot of offensive weapons. The Hawkeyes could possibly pull this out on the heels of their defense and the experience of head coach Kirk Ferentz who is coaching in his 18th bowl game with the school – but Kentucky has the players.
Kentucky 27 – Iowa 13
Free Pick: Kentucky -3.5