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The Citrus Bowl has always been one of my faves — that and The Outback Bowl — because they usually have two good, but flawed, teams involved and often it creates really fun games to watch. I think Iowa v Kentucky fits that to a T.
Iowa comes in getting a marginal (+2.5) for this game but that also feels like it is about right. The Hawkeyes have not looked that great in their last few games, that 42-3 loss in the B1G championship game to Michigan looms large in the minds of many, but Iowa always rises up for bowl games, winning its last three season enders.
Where the rubber will meet the road for Iowa is in replacing running back Tyler Goodson, who is prepping for the NFL Draft. The plan is to rotate Ivory Kelly-Martin, Gavin Williams, and Leshon Willams. The combination has only been seeing scraps of playing time and this is a showcase opportunity. Iowa will have to get the running game going against a unit that allowed 117.8 yards per game on the ground.
Iowa will also need to get some plays from Joe Evans and Zack VanValkenburg on the defensive side of the ball to force some early throws and allow the secondary to make plays if it is going to win this one.
The line is likely to get bought up with SEC fans coming in on the Cats — or the public betting the fave — so keep an eye on if they line moves up over 3 and then jump in. While Kentucky is going for a 10-win season it does not have a list of impressive wins and has not played a team with a pulse in six weeks, getting wins over Vandy, NM State, Louisville to close the year. Iowa will want to erase the Michigan loss and should be plenty motivated on defense to do it.