UK going back to the Citrus Bowl, playing Iowa for the first time in school history

·4 min read

The Kentucky football team is going back to Orlando, Fla.

UK will play Iowa in the VRBO Citrus Bowl, the bowl announced in coordination with ESPN and the Southeastern Conference on Sunday. It will be Kentucky’s second appearance in the Citrus Bowl and the Hawkeyes’ sixth.

The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Jan. 1, and will be broadcast nationally by ABC. The Citrus Bowl this year is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Tickets to the game can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Kentucky, coming off a 9-3 finish in the regular season, made its first trip to the Citrus Bowl after the 2018 season, the first time it ended a regular season with a 9-3 record during Mark Stoops’ tenure. UK defeated Penn State, 27-24, in that year’s game, to finish with double-digit victories for just the third time in school history.

Iowa, 10-3 after losing to Michigan in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday, is the only program in America with an active win streak against non-conference opponents that’s longer than Kentucky’s. The Hawkeyes have won 16 straight, a stretch that includes bowl victories over Boston College, Mississippi State and USC. UK has won 15 straight non-conference games and also boasts three straight bowl wins — over Penn State, Virginia Tech and N.C. State.

The Wildcats finished No. 22 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, one spot behind Arkansas, which ended the season 8-4. The Razorbacks were paired against Penn State in the Outback Bowl. Iowa was ranked No. 15 in the final CFP rankings.

Will Levis (7) has thrown for 2,593 yards and 23 touchdowns this season for Kentucky, which is seeking its fourth straight bowl win.
Will Levis (7) has thrown for 2,593 yards and 23 touchdowns this season for Kentucky, which is seeking its fourth straight bowl win.

Kentucky will play in a bowl for the sixth straight season. Iowa has been invited to a bowl for a ninth straight season, but it did not play in one following the 2020 season; it was scheduled to play Missouri in the Music City Bowl, but COVID-19 complications within the Tigers’ program forced the cancellation of that game.

This will be the fourth of UK’s six postseason appearances under Stoops to take place in Florida. UK has twice played in the Gator Bowl, which is played in Jacksonville. Kentucky is set to play in a bowl game for the 21st time in school history. Not counting the 2020 invitation, this will be Iowa’s 34th bowl appearance.

The schools have never played each other. Since ending its annual showdown with Indiana following the 2005 season, Kentucky has only played two teams from the Big Ten: Northwestern in the 2017 Music City Bowl (a 24-23 loss) and Penn State in 2018.

Kentucky is 28-35-3 all-time against current members of the Big Ten. It is 11-17-2 all-time against Big Ten teams that aren’t Indiana.

Alma mater

Mark Stoops, who recently agreed to a contract extension with UK through the 2027 season, started his coaching career at Iowa.

Stoops, like his older brothers Bob and Mike, played defensive back for the Hawkeyes, lettering from 1987 to 1989. He coached as a graduate assistant under the late Hayden Fry for two seasons, both of which ended in bowl trips (the Rose Bowl in 1990 and the Holiday Bowl in 1991).

After his time at Iowa, Stoops coached defensive backs and was the athletic director at Nordonia High School in Ohio. He jumped back into the college ranks in 1996 at South Florida. UK hired him in December 2012 from Florida State, where he’d spent three seasons as the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator and DBs coach.

Citrus Bowl

No. 22 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Iowa

When: Jan. 1, 1 p.m.

Where: Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

TV: ABC-36

Records: Kentucky 9-3, Iowa 10-3

Series: First meeting

College Football Playoff final rankings

1. Alabama (12-1)

2. Michigan (12-1)

3. Georgia (12-1)

4. Cincinnati (13-0)

5. Notre Dame (11-1)

6. Ohio State (10-2)

7. Baylor (11-2)

8. Mississippi (10-2)

9. Oklahoma State (11-2)

10. Michigan State (10-2)

11. Utah (10-3)

12. Pittsburgh (11-2)

13. BYU (10-2)

14. Oregon (10-3)

15. Iowa (10-3)

16. Oklahoma (10-2)

17. Wake Forest (10-3)

18. North Carolina State (9-3)

19. Clemson (9-3)

20. Houston (11-2)

21. Arkansas (8-4)

22. Kentucky (9-3)

23. Louisiana (12-1)

24. San Diego State (11-2)

25. Texas A&M (8-4)

It just means more (bowl teams). See where all 13 SEC schools will play this winter.

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First Scouting Report: It is Mark Stoops vs. Mark Stoops’ alma mater in Citrus Bowl

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