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Kentucky to take on Iowa in New Year's Day VRBO Citrus Bowl

UK Athletics

The No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats will take on No. 15 Iowa  in the 2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl.  The game will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 1, at Camping World Stadium and will be televised nationally by ABC.

The contest will be the first-ever meeting between the Wildcats and Hawkeyes and will also mark 75 years since the inaugural edition of the game, played on Jan. 1, 1947 on the same site.

The Hawkeyes finished the season with a 10 and 3 record after a loss to Michigan in the Big10 Championship game, while the Wildcats locked up second place in the SEC East with an overall record of 9 and 3.

The Kentucky offense is led by quarterback Will Levis, who ranks in the top 50 nationally and top five in the SEC in passing yards (2,593 yards) and has 32 total touchdowns (23 passing, nine rushing) this season. Junior Chris Rodriguez is Kentucky's top-producing running back with 1,272 yards and eight rushing scores, while Wan'Dale Robinson (1,164 yards and seven touchdowns) and Josh Ali (601 yards and three touchdowns) lead the Wildcats wideouts.

The  Wildcats enter this matchup allowing an average of 22.08 points and 336.4 total yards per game on the season and have held opposing offenses to just 117.2 rushing yards per game (17th in the nation). Linebacker Jacquez Jones leads the team with 82 tackles, while fellow linebackers J.J. Weaver (34 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and DeAndre Square (75 tackles and three sacks) have also had strong seasons.

This postseason will be Iowa's second Vrbo Citrus Bowl trip all-time and its first since the Hawkeyes defeated LSU in 2005 on a 56-yard touchdown pass on the game's final play. Champions of the Big Ten West Division, Iowa ranks 14th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 19.15 points per game, with a run defense that has held opponents to 113.8 rushing yards per game, good for 15th nationally. Linebackers Jack Campbell and Seth Benson lead the Hawkeyes defense with 126 and 95 total tackles, respectively, while Dane Belton anchors the secondary and is tied for second in the nation in interceptions with five.

Offensively, the Hawkeyes are paced by quarterback Spencer Petras, who threw for 1,669 yards and nine touchdowns this year while also adding five rushing touchdowns. Junior running back Tyler Goodson (1,151 yards and six touchdowns) leads the Hawkeyes rushing attack, while tight end Sam LaPorta (548 yards and two touchdowns) and wide receiver Keagan Johnson (352 yards and two touchdowns) pace the Hawkeyes receiving corps.

This will be the first ever meeting between the two schools; giving UK Coach Mark Stoops to get a win over his alma mater. He was a defensive back for Iowa in the late 1980's.


More from UK Athletics:


Coach Mark Stoops is the first head man to lead UK to six consecutive bowl appearances. Stoops is his ninth season in Lexington. He is 58-53 overall, ranking second in school history in victories behind Paul “Bear” Bryant (60).  Stoops is a 1989 alumnus of the University of Iowa and a three-year letterman (1987-89) under Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry.  Stoops also was a graduate assistant at Iowa for the 1990 and ‘91 seasons.  


Kentucky will make its second appearance in the VRBO Citrus Bowl during the current run of six consecutive bowl appearances, which includes a three-game winning streak.   


The Wildcats began their six-year bowl run in 2016. The Cats have won each of their past three bowl games: defeating Penn State, 27-24, in the 2019 VRBO Citrus Bowl and Virginia Tech, 37-30, in the 2019 Belk Bowl, and NC State, 23-21, in last season’s TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. 


The Wildcats own an 11-9 all-time record in bowl games. 

Kentucky and Iowa enter the game tied for the nation’s longest active non-conference win streak with 15 straight wins vs. non-league opponents.  UK is also looking to match the 10-win season the Wildcats achieved the last time they played in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in 2018. The 2018 campaign was the only time UK claimed 10 victories since 1977. 


Kentucky began the season with a 6-0 record, climbing as high as No. 11 in The Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, before a three-game losing skid. The Wildcats rallied in November by winning their last three games, topped by a 52-21 win at instate rival Louisville, to close the regular season. 


Kentucky is ranked No. 22 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, their second-highest final CFP ranking since the playoff began in 2014, as the Wildcats were No. 14 in the 2018 final slotting.  Kentucky is No. 25 in the current AP ranking and No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches poll.  

Ticket info:

All Kentucky football season ticket holders and eligible K Fund donors that placed a Citrus Bowl request during the priority request period (Nov. 17 – Dec. 2) will receive tickets, and confirmation emails will be sent Sunday evening. Tickets ordered during the priority request period will be allocated into the best seat locations in Kentucky’s official allotment and assigned in order of K Fund priority point ranking later this week. 


After holding tickets to fulfill all priority requests and securing additional tickets from the Citrus Bowl, tickets in Kentucky’s official allotment are sold out. Public tickets are now available directly through CitrusBowlOrlando.com and Ticketmaster.com. Kentucky will be on the east side of Camping World Stadium. Student ticket information for the Citrus Bowl will be available on Sunday evening, online at UKFootballTix.com.


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