Iowa vs Kentucky – Music City Bowl Pick – 12-31

kentucky vs. iowa bowl pick
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Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (7-5)

In the Music City bowl Iowa faces Kentucky in a Big 10 vs. SEC clash between two unranked teams that each will miss many key players. Iowa is the 2.5-point favorite in this bowl game with the total sitting at 31.5.

To say the betting public has backed Iowa in this game would be a major understatement. They opened as a 3-point underdog and as of December 27th are now a 2.5-point favorite.

On the season Iowa is 7-5 ATS with an O/U record of 4-8 and Kentucky is 8-4 ATS with an O/U record of 1-11.

The Music City Bowl is being held at the neutral site of the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Third String a Go

For Iowa in the Music City Bowl, they will be without their starting QB in Spencer Petras, who is out for the season due to injury and backup Alex Padilla entered the transfer portal. Under center the Hawkeyes will go with either redshirt freshman Joe Labas or true freshman Carson May and neither has seen the field this season.

Iowa is all about winning on defense, as they rank sixth in the nation only giving up an average of 14.4 ppg. Their D is vital since the team does not rank in the top 120 in the nation in passing or rushing yards per game and ranks 123rd averaging 17.4 ppg.

Leading target for the Hawkeyes in TE Sam LaPorta (601 yards 1 TD) missed the last game of the season with an injury and is listed as questionable for this bowl game. At least the team has WR Nico Ragaini and TE Luke Lachey active and they combined for 727 yards and four TD this season.

The Hawkeyes may lean on top RB Kalen Johnson (762 yards 6 TD), who averaged 5.4 yards per carry this season and rushed for 109 yards in the season finale 24-17 loss to Nebraska.

Kentucky had a legit defense this season giving up an average of 19.1 ppg and they rank 11th in the nation against the pass and 70th against the run.

Three Key Players Out

Kentucky enters the Music City Bowl with three key offensive players out. QB Will Levis is out getting ready for the NFL Draft, as is top RB Chris Rodriguez Jr., who rushed for 904 yards this season. The second leading rusher in RB Kavosiey Smoke is also out entering the transfer portal.

UK will go with freshman Kaiya Sheron and in limited action this season he passed for 187 yards with a couple of TDs and one INT. The backfield is a major issue, as not only are the top two RBs out but third leading rusher JuTahn McClain is questionable with an injury and has not played since late November.

Two of the top three targets for the Wildcats will play including top WR Barion Brown, who had 604 yards and 4 TD this season.

UK and their depleted offense has a tall task facing a great Iowa defense that ranks 12th in the nation against the pass and 16th against the run.

Betting Trends

  • 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall
  • 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games
  • Under record of 7-0 in their last 7 non-conference games


  • 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 non-conference games
  • 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 games overall
  • 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 bowl games
  • Under record of 13-3 in their last 16 games

Our Pick

Wow. Two teams without much offense to begin with and both will be without key offensive players. To have a Bowl game this depleted on New Years Eve is a sham. A complete disgrace.

Here are the results from our model for this game.

Iowa                      31.5          12   NEUTRAL 
Kentucky                  -3.5          11 full season data
Iowa                      31.5          10   NEUTRAL 
Kentucky                  -3.5          10 last 4 games
Iowa                      31.5          13   NEUTRAL 
Kentucky                  -3.5          12 last 7 games

Not much of a difference in the above 3 predictions using different time frame parameters. We’d take whatever points were available with the dog in this one, which at the time of this writing is Kentucky +2.5

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