Citrus Bowl: Iowa vs. Kentucky odds, picks and prediction – USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire

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The No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-3) meet the No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats (9-3) Saturday in the Citrus Bowl. The kickoff at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., is set for 1 p.m. ET. Below, we look at the Iowa vs. Kentucky odds and lines, and make our expert college football picks, predictions and bets.
Iowa won four straight en route to a Big Ten West division crown and an appearance in the Big Ten Championship where the Hawkeyes were shellacked by the Michigan Wolverines 42-3.
The Hawkeyes are led by junior RB Tyler Goodson who has the fourth-most all scrimmage yards in the Big Ten at 1,398. However, Goodson opted out of the Citrus Bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft. Iowa is 7-6 ATS and 6-7 O/U with the 18th-toughest schedule, according to USA TODAY’s Jeff Sagarin.
Kentucky finished second in the SEC East (behind the No.3 Georgia Bulldogs) and have won three straight following a three-game losing skid entering its bowl game.
The Wildcats are led by junior RB Christopher Rodriguez Jr. who rushed for the second-most yards in the SEC (1,271) and junior transfer QB Will Levis, who was sixth in the conference in passer efficiency rating (149.4). Kentucky is 8-4 ATS and 8-4 O/U with the 69th-toughest schedule (Sagarin).
The Big Ten is 5-0 overall in bowl games thus far while the SEC is 1-5 overall. Both programs have won three straight bowl games.
Rankings courtesy of the AFCA Coaches Poll powered by USA TODAY Sports.
Odds provided by Tipico Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports Scores and Sports Betting Odds hub for a full list. Lines last updated at 9 a.m. ET.
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Kentucky 24, Iowa 16
BET 1 unit on KENTUCKY (-155) because both teams like to play a hard-nosed, physical brand of football by the Wildcats are much more efficient than the Hawkeyes.
For instance, Kentucky has a positive net non-garbage time predicted points added (PPA) and ranks fifth in third-down conversion rate. While Iowa has a negative net non-garbage time PPA and ranks 108th in third-down conversion rate.
Furthermore, the Wildcats have a plus-1.3 yards per play differential and a plus-3.3% net Havoc rate while the Hawkeyes have a minus-0.2 yards per play differential and a minus-2.4% net Havoc rate.
More importantly, I don’t see how Iowa executes offensively without Goodson and with senior QB Spencer Petras, who’s 10th in the Big Ten in passer efficiency rating, battling a shoulder injury.
PASS since the Wildcats’ money line is only 30 cents on the dollar more expensive than Kentucky -2.5 (-125).
For what it’s worth, Kentucky has been steamed up from a 1.5-point underdog on the opener, presumably based on the news of Goodson opting out.
BET UNDER 44.5 (-115) for 1 unit because Iowa will be the second-best defense Kentucky has faced (behind Georgia) this season, and the Wildcats have a minus-13 turnover differential whereas the Hawkeyes are plus-14 in turnover differential.
In fact, Kentucky has the fourth-worst offensive turnover rate whereas Iowa has the sixth-best defensive turnover rate, according to Football Outsiders. So there could be a bunch of long, empty possessions for the Wildcats.
Also, the UNDER 44.5 (-115) has been hit by sharp money, which has steamed the total down from the 45-point opener.
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