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Iowa vs Kentucky Prediction, Odds and College Football Betting Picks for Music City Bowl

For fans of defensive football, Saturday afternoon’s Music City Bowl figures to be right up your alley. This marks the second year in a row that the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Kentucky Wildcats are meeting in the postseason. Both teams were carried by their defenses during the regular season and will also be without their respective starting quarterbacks for this game. As a result, the Iowa vs Kentucky odds have set the over/under for this game at just 31 points! The college football betting picks also view the Big Ten representative as a slight favorite to win this matchup.

The following game preview provides the college football betting odds, trends and FEI Index ratings before sharing our official Iowa vs Kentucky prediction for the Music City Bowl matchup.

Iowa vs Kentucky Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

Music City Bowl
Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (7-5, 3-5 SEC)
Date: Saturday, December 31, 2022
Time: 12 p.m. EST
Venue: Nissan Stadium — Nashville, TN
Coverage: ABC

As has been the case for a few years now, Iowa’s defense was the heart and soul of the team in 2022. In fact, the defense outscored the offense with a pair of safeties in the season-opener as the Hawkeyes escaped with a 7-3 win over FCS-level South Dakota State. Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska were the only teams that managed to score more than 13 points in wins over Kirk Ferentz’s squad this season. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes’ offense was so inept that they lost two additional games!

Kentucky started the season off with four consecutive wins and also had a chance to knock off Ole Miss on the road. Unfortunately, the Wildcats turned the ball over in the red zone on their final possession and took the loss. Kentucky wound up going .500 in SEC play for the season with a home loss to Vanderbilt marking the low point of the season. Mark Stoops got his team to bounce back and play Georgia tough the following week before ending the regular season with a rivalry game win over Louisville.

Jordan Wright Iowa vs Kentucky prediction odds college football betting picks Music City Bowl game predictions
Credit: Mark Cornelison/University of Kentucky Athletics

Iowa vs Kentucky College Football Betting Picks and Odds

All college football betting odds for Iowa vs Kentucky can be found at BetOnline Sportsbook.

Moneyline: IOWA: (-137) | UK: (+117)
Point Spread: IOWA: -2.5 (-110) | UK: +2.5 (-110)
Total: 31 — Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)

College Football FEI Ratings

The following table shares the Fremeau Efficiency Index rankings for both teams involved in this Music City Bowl matchup. The purpose of the FEI ratings is to represent the per-possession scoring advantage that a team would be expected to have on a neutral field against an average opponent. The rankings for offense and defense are out of 131 total FBS-level teams.

Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) ratings are froFootball Outsiders

TeamOverall FEI (Rk)OFEI (Rk)DFEI (Rk)
Iowa.39 (31)-.55 (96)1.22 (2)
Kentucky.39 (30).15 (56).67 (21)
  • Hawkeyes are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four bowl games.
  • The UNDER is 5-1 in the Hawkeyes’ last six games against teams with a winning record.
  • Hawkeyes are 11-4 ATS in 15 games spanning the last five years in games where the betting total is 40 or less.
  • Wildcats are 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 non-conference games.
  • All of the Wildcats’ last ten games against opponents allowing less than 22.0 points per game have stayed UNDER the total.
  • Six of the Wildcats’ last seven games following a straight up win have gone UNDER the total.
  • Kentucky beat Iowa 20-17 in last year’s Citrus Bowl matchup. Wildcats closed as a 3-point betting favorite in that game.

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Iowa vs Kentucky Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

The over/under of 31 for this game is easily the lowest total of the entire College Football Bowl Season. Despite this, it’s pretty tough to rationalize playing the Over. This would have been the case had the two teams been at full strength as both were very stout defensively. Add in all of the opt-outs, transfers and injuries that the offenses in this game are dealing with and the Iowa vs Kentucky odds are rightfully tilted in favor of a low-scoring affair.

For Iowa, starting quarterback Spencer Petras is set to miss the Music City Bowl due to injury. With backup Alex Padilla entering the college football transfer portal, the Hawkeyes will turn to third-stringer Joey Labas to start on New Year’s Eve. Labas has not attempted a single pass in his collegiate career thus far and will is now set to be thrown into the fire against a Kentucky defense that ranked 17th nationally in points allowed per game (20.8).

That said, the Wildcats will have to deal with their fair share of absences on offense as well. The most notable is at the QB position where Will Levis has opted out to prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft. Kentucky only managed to score 14 points against South Carolina in a regular season game against South Carolina that Levis missed due to injury.

In addition, UK will also be without its top to RBs as Christopher Rodriguez is NFL-bound and Kavosiey Smoke entering the portal. It certainly won’t be an ideal situation for whoever steps in to be the Wildcats’ interim play-caller. The same can be said of playing against an Iowa defense that was one of the best in the country.

In addition to ranking second nationally in adjusted efficiency, the Hawkeyes were sixth in scoring defense (15.5 points per game), 16th in average rushing yards allowed (110.5) and 11th against the pass (181.7). Aside from safety Kaevon Merriweather who opted out for the draft, Iowa will have virtually its entire defense intact.

What’s more, the Hawkeyes are used to needing to generate defensive scores given how inept the offense was all year long. Jordan Wright and the Kentucky D are strong as well, but the edge ultimately goes to Jack Campbell and Iowa.

IOWA COVERS will be our official college football betting Iowa vs Kentucky prediction for the Music City Bowl.

For what it’s worth, the ESPN Matchup Predictor gives Kentucky a 50.3% chance to win this game outright.

Bet: Iowa -2.5 (-110 at BetOnline Sportsbook)

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