Iowa at Kentucky - 12/31/22 College Football Picks and Prediction

Kentucky Wildcats (7-5) vs Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5)

Game Info: Saturday, December 31, 2022 at 12:00 pm (Nissan Stadium)

Betting Odds: Kentucky Wildcats -1.5 -- Over/Under: 32.5 Click Here for the Latest Odds

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The Iowa Hawkeyes and the Kentucky Wildcats will head to Nashville and face off in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl this Saturday on ABC. There’s more than ironic playing styles coming together with this matchup. Iowa and Kentucky met for the first time on January 1st of this year in the Citrus Bowl, and they will now close 2022 together facing off here in Nashville. It’s a pretty cool story, and Kentucky won last year’s meeting, 20-17.

Iowa finished the season at 7-5 after losing to Nebraska in the Heroes Game. The Hawkeyes had their four-game winning streak snapped after failing to rally against the Huskers. Iowa scores 17.4 points per game, while passing for 158.2 yards per game (254th) and rushing for 96.8 ypg (259th). The Hawkeye defense allowed 14.4 points per game.

Iowa moved on from Spencer Petras in the Nebraska game, and with the 12-game starter entering the transfer portal, Alex Padilla is set to get the call again in Nashville. Padilla brings 10 games of experience to the lineup, and he threw for 141 yards and a touchdown in the regular season finale. Kaleb Johnson picked things up down the stretch and finished as the Hawkeyes leading rusher with 757 yards and six touchdowns. Senior tight end led the pedestrian passing attack with 53 receptions and 601 receiving yards.

Kentucky also closed the season at 7-5 after defeating Louisville in the Governor’s Cup. The Wildcats jumped on their arch rivals early, and walked away with a 13-point victory. Kentucky scores 22.1 points per game, while passing for 261.1 yards per game (167th) and rushing for 120.3 ypg (218th). The Wildcat defense allowed 19.1 points per game.

Will Levis will make the business decision and forgo facing a fierce Iowa defense here. Very wise decision for the surefire first round pick, and it begins a new journey at the QB position for the Bluegrass. True freshman Kaiya Sheron started against SC back in October and threw a pair of touchdowns but took six sacks. UK will also be without two-time leading rusher Chris Rodriguez, meaning the offense may really be hindered coming back into Nashville.

Iowa is 4-8 against the spread this season, with a 3-9 over/under record. Kentucky is 6-6 ATS this season, with a 6-6 O/U record. 

The bowl makers really put something interesting together with this one. Two of the more pedestrian offenses in the nation will collide in Tennessee here, in a game that may see little production on the offensive end. It’s been abysmal for Iowa offensively this season, while Kentucky enters this one without either piece of their star backfield. 

Outside of the undisputed two, UK arguably represented the most physical team in the SEC, but they may just meet their match here. This will essentially serve as another routine Big Ten contest for the Hawkeyes, and with the Wildcats undermanned, I really want to lean on their defensive prowess here. Let’s avoid trusting Iowa with any margin, and buy-in to the Army-Navy like total. Take the under for what should be a brawl in the Music City Bowl. 

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a PickDawgz site consensus.

Mitch's Take...

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