ORLANDO – The No. 15 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-3, 7-2 Big Ten) and No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats (9-3, 5-3 SEC) will meet in the 2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl. Florida Citrus Sports chairman Ken Robinson and CEO Steve Hogan announced the matchup today on behalf of the organization.
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.
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.
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.
Kentucky’s head coach is Mark Stoops, a former Iowa defensive back under Hayden Fry and the younger brother of former Hawkeye Bob Stoops.