First Scouting Report: It is Mark Stoops vs. Mark Stoops’ alma mater in Citrus Bowl

·3 min read

An early look ahead to No. 22 Kentucky’s appearance in the VRBO Citrus Bowl vs. No. 15 Iowa:

The opponent

No. 22 Kentucky (9-3, 5-3 SEC) will face No. 15 Iowa (10-3, 7-3 Big Ten) at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

The Citrus Bowl will kick off at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2022, and be telecast by ABC.

Iowa was beaten 42-3 by No. 2 Michigan in Saturday’s Big Ten championship game.

Among the victories recorded by Coach Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes in 2021 are wins over ranked foes (at the time of the game) No. 17 Indiana (34-6), at No. 9 Iowa State (27-17) and No. 4 Penn State (23-20).

In addition to the defeat to Michigan, Iowa’s losses came at home to Purdue (24-7) and at Wisconsin (27-7) in back-to-back games, Oct. 16 and Oct. 30.

Series history

The teams have never played.

Bowl histories

Kentucky is 11-9 all-time in bowl games and will be making a school-record, sixth straight postseason appearance.

UK will also be seeking its fourth straight bowl victory, having beaten No. 12 Penn State 27-24 in the Citrus Bowl that followed the 2018 season; Virginia Tech 37-30 in 2019 Belk Bowl; and No. 23 North Carolina State 23-21 in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl that followed the 2020 season.

Last season, A.J. Rose ran for 148 yards; Christopher Rodriguez ran for 84 yards and two touchdowns; and the UK defense intercepted three passes as the Cats outlasted N.C. State.

Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops is 3-2 in bowl games and has won three straight.

Iowa is 17-15-1 all-time in bowls and has also won three straight postseason games. The Hawkeyes’ most recent bowl appearance was in the 2019 Holiday Bowl, a 49-24 win over USC.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz is 9-8 in bowl games.

Know your foe

1. Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops is going up against his old school. Following in the footsteps of older brothers Bob and Mike, Stoops played defensive back for Coach Hayden Fry at Iowa from 1986 through 1988.

According to AL.com, Mark Stoops made 69 tackles and three interceptions in his career, which was derailed in 1988 by a major knee injury.

From 1989 through 1991, Stoops served as a graduate assistant coach at Iowa.

Mark Stoops made 69 tackles with three interceptions during his career (1986 through 1988) as an Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back.
Mark Stoops made 69 tackles with three interceptions during his career (1986 through 1988) as an Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back.

2. On paper, a matchup between Kentucky and Iowa would seem likely to be decided by turnovers. The Hawkeyes are tied for third in the nation in turnover margin at plus-13.

Iowa has intercepted a whopping 24 passes and recovered five fumbles while it has lost eight fumbles and thrown eight picks.

Conversely, UK is tied for No. 128 (out of 130 FBS teams) in the country in turnover margin at minus-13.

Kentucky has thrown 12 interceptions and lost 10 fumbles while intercepting only six throws and recovering only three fumbles.

3. UK quarterback Will Levis, a Penn State transfer, made one of his two career starts for the Nittany Lions last Nov. 20 — against Iowa.

Levis completed 13 of 16 passes for 106 yards and ran 15 times for a net-34 yards rushing in the first half.

However, PSU trailed Iowa 24-7 at halftime and Penn State Coach James Franklin reinserted usual starter Sean Clifford in the third quarter in what became a 41-21 Hawkeyes road victory.

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