Kentucky to face Iowa in Vrbo Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day


Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops celebrates after a rushing touchdown by Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) during the Kentucky vs. Louisville football game on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky. UK won 52-21. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

No. 22 Kentucky will ring in the new year in Orlando, Florida.

The Wildcats will take on No. 15 Iowa in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 at Camping World Stadium. 

UK is no stranger to the bowl game, as they claimed the citrus crown on New Year’s Day in 2019, defeating Penn State 27-24.

That win over the Nittany Lions gave UK just it’s third 10-win season in program history. Now, the Cats will attempt to earn win No. 10 for a fourth time, against a different Big Ten opponent. 

Iowa enters the Citrus Bowl with a 10-3 record following a 42-3 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Championship game. 

The Hawkeyes, like Kentucky, began the season 6-0. Three of Iowa’s six victories came against ranked opponents, including a top five win over then No. 4 Penn State. Iowa reached as high as No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll. 

Iowa’s College Football Playoff hopes were quickly derailed, following back-to-back Big Ten defeats to Purdue and Wisconsin. 

Despite the two losses, the Hawkeyes finished the regular season strong, winning their final four games and claiming the Big Ten West title. 

Kentucky suffered a losing streak of its own, dropping three in a row following six victories to begin the season. The Cats, like Iowa, sprinted to the finish line, winning their final three regular season games, finishing second in the SEC East.

New Year’s Day will be the first ever meeting between the Wildcats and Hawkeyes. However, UK head coach Mark Stoops is no stranger to Iowa. 

Stoops attended Iowa and played football for the Hawkeyes from 1986-88. From 89-91, Stoops remained in Iowa City as a graduate assistant coach for the team.

Three decades later, Stoops will take on his alma mater, rounding out his ninth-year at the helm for Kentucky.

UK will be the home team in the matchup. Kick-off at Camping World Stadium is set for 1 p.m. E.T.