The 2023 Music City Bowl features the 7-5 Kentucky Wildcats against the 7-5 Iowa Hawkeyes. Here is the 2023 Music City Bowl preview.
Kentucky Wildcats (7-5)
Kentucky won seven games to make their seventh-straight bowl game. They won games against Miami (OH), Florida, Mississippi State, Missouri and Louisville, who all made bowl games. Their loss to Vanderbilt was the only one to a team who didn’t make a bowl game.
The Wildcats score 22.1 points per game, ranking 105th in the country. They average 120.2 rushing yards (ranked 107th) and 216.1 passing yards per game (ranked 88th).
Will Levis has opted out of this bowl game for the NFL Draft, so Kaiya Sheron will start. Sheron has passed for 187 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 58.6 percent completion in relief of Levis this season. Four players have at least 200 receiving yards this season. Barion Brown and Dane Key have each had great freshmen seasons with 604 and 472 yards respectively. Tayvion Robinson has also played well with 470 receiving yards.
Chris Rodriguez has been a workhorse running back in his career, but he has opted out of this game. The Wildcats have also lost Kavosiey Smoke to the transfer portal. JuTahn McClain is the most experienced running back in the backfield. McClain registered 238 rushing yards this season.
Their defense gives up 19.1 points per game, which ranks them 11th in the country. They give up 173.4 passing yards (ranked 14th) and 146.8 rushing yards per game (ranked 68th). D’Eryk Jackson has led the team with 61 total tackles. Linebacker J.J. Weaver has the team-high with three sacks. Keidron Smith has been solid in the secondary with four passes defended and two interceptions.
Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5)
Iowa won seven games to make their 10th-straight bowl game. They defeated three bowl-eligible teams, which were Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Their losses to Iowa State and Nebraska were to teams who didn’t make a bowl game.
The offense scores 17.9 points per game, which ranks 122nd nationally. They rush for 97.2 yards (ranked 122nd) and pass for 158.2 yards per game (ranked 123rd).
Starting quarterback Spencer Petras is out for the season, while backup Alex Padilla is in the transfer portal. Joey Labas will start for the Hawkeyes and has never attempted a pass in college. Three pass-catchers have at least 300 yards on the season. Their leading receiver is tight end Sam LaPorta, who has 601 yards and one touchdown. He is expected to return from injury to play in this game.
Kaleb Johnson has led the team in rushing with 762 yards and six touchdowns. Behind him, Leshon Williams has also produced with 410 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes concede 14.4 points per game, ranking sixth in the country. They allow 173.8 passing yards (ranked 15th) and 104.1 rushing yards per game (ranked 13th). Linebacker Jack Campbell has been the leading tackler with 115. Deontae Craig has a team-high 6.5 sacks. Riley Moss has had a great season with 10 passes defended and one interception, while Cooper Dejean also has played well with seven passes defended and four interceptions.
This game won’t have great offense, especially with the quarterback issues for each team. Kentucky has the better playmakers and the more proven quarterback, albeit in just one game started. The Wildcats should be able to win a low-scoring, close game.
Kentucky Wildcats 17 Iowa Hawkeyes 12
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