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2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl Preview

2021 Vrbo Citrus Bowl Preview

The 2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl features the 15th ranked 10-3 Iowa Hawkeyes against the 22nd ranked 9-3 Kentucky Wildcats. Here is the 2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl preview.

No.15 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-3)

Long-time head coach Kirk Ferentz hit the double-digit win mark for the 7th time in his time at Iowa. The Hawkeyes were ranked as high as No.3 in the country before a two-game skid mid-season. They’ll be paired with a Kentucky team that matches up similarly to themselves.

Iowa’s success this season could hardly be credited to the offense. Iowa ranked 10th in scoring offense in the B1G and that’s the good news. They averaged just 297.7ypg, good for 13th in the B1G. They were last in the B1G in converting first downs. The offense largely revolves around one player, Tyler Goodson, who has opted out.

Defensively things are much more impressive. Iowa allowed just 19.2ppg – good for 5th in the B1G. Their main threat comes by the turnover. Iowa forced the most interceptions (24) in the NCAA this year, and the third most in total turnovers with 29. That gave them the third-best turnover margin in the NCAA.

The Hawkeye defense has six different players with multiple interceptions this year and four with three or more. Dane Belton ties for the B1G lead with five while Riley Moss sits second with four. Jack Campbell is second in the B1G with his 126 tackles to go along with two forced fumbles.

No.22 Kentucky Wildcats (9-3)

For the Wildcats they’ll be looking for the fourth double-digit win total in program history, second in the modern era. Mark Stoops once again is giving Kentucky fans more to cheer for than basketball. Kentucky climbed as high as No.11 this year before they had their own mid-season skid. They capped off a nice season with a lopsided 52-21 win against rivals Louisville.

The arrival of Will Levis and Wan’Dale Robinson gave the Kentucky offense a jolt in 2021. Usually only a threat from the ground game, the pair forced teams to respect the pass while the running game continued to pound. Chris Rodriguez Jr.’s 1,272 yards were good for second among SEC running backs.

Kentucky’s defense also had a very successful year. While they lack at forcing turnovers they excel at open-field tackles and fundamental defense. Josh Paschal continued his excellent career in blue with a team-leading 15 tackles for a loss. Ole Miss transfer Jacquez Jones made an immediate impact with a team-leading 82 tackles.

Prediction

This game should largely pivot on the turnover margin. Iowa enters as arguably the best at forcing turnovers and one of the better teams at protecting the ball. Kentucky is the inverse – bad at forcing turnovers as well as very turnover-prone on offense.

Iowa’s offense is very anemic and counts on the defense to provide short fields to convert on drives. Kentucky will need to make sure they can protect the ball if to keep the Iowa offense on their side of the field. But if the turnovers bug bites, Kentucky will be in big trouble.

Iowa Hawkeyes: 19, Kentucky Wildcats: 24

 

 

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