UPDATE: Ticket, other info for UK-Iowa in Vrbo Citrus Bowl

Wildcats return after claiming 2019 title as Hawkeyes make first Orlando appearance since 2005 thriller

UPDATE POSTED 5 P.M. DEC. 5, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky Football is headed to Orlando, Fla., for a school-record sixth straight postseason trip. The No. 22 Wildcats have accepted a bid to play in the VRBO Citrus Bowl and will face No. 15 Iowa Jan. 1 in Camping World Stadium.    

Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET with ABC and the ESPN App carrying the national television broadcast.   

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.  

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. 

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.   

Offensively, the Wildcats have been guided by quarterback Will Levis, who is completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 2,593 yards and 23 touchdowns. Levis’ top target has been Wan’Dale Robinson, who is among the leading receivers in the nation with 94 catches for 1,164 yards and seven TDs. The ground game has been paced by Christopher Rodriguez Jr., who has rushed for 1,272 yards and eight scores, and he ranks second in the league in rushing with 106 yards per game. The trio is just the second in school history to reach 2,000 yards passing, 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving in the same season.   
 
The Kentucky defense has been great at times in 2021, with linebackers DeAndre Square and Jacquez Jones leading the team in tackles, while safety Yusuf Corker and defensive end Josh Paschal are among the SEC leaders in pass breakups and tackles for loss, respectively. 

The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten Western Division and boast a 10-3 record, having dropped the Conference Championship game to Michigan on Saturday, snapping the program’s streak of six straight wins against ranked opponents. Junior offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum has been named the Big Ten Conference Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year. Quarterbacks Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla have combined to throw for 2,305 yards and 11 touchdowns. Running back Tyler Goodson has rushed for 1,151 yards and six TDs, while linebacker Jack Campbell paces the defense with 129 tackles. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz is in his 23rd year as head coach at Iowa, and 32nd season overall at the University. 

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 3 P.M. DEC. 5, 2021

ORLANDO, Fla. (WTVQ/UK Athletics) – In a game featuring two of the top teams in each conference, 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.

The game also features a rugged Iowa defense against the Wildcats’ diverse offense.

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.

Tickets for the Vrbo Citrus Bowl are available via Ticketmaster by visiting bigtime.games/2022vcbtix. Groups of 10 or more may call the Florida Citrus Sports offices at 407.423.2476.

Categories: Featured, Football, Local News, News, Solid Blue, Sports