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Kentucky, Iowa Meet Once Again, This Time In Music City Bowl

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Kentucky, Iowa Meet Once Again, This Time In Music City Bowl

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Kentucky, Iowa Meet Once Again, This Time In Music City Bowl
Kentucky, Iowa Meet Once Again, This Time In Music City Bowl

FILE - Kentucky's Qaya Sharon looks for a wide receiver during the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina in Lexington, Kentucky, Oct. 8, 2022. Iowa (7-5) vs. Kentucky (7-5) Saturday, December 31, 2022 in the Music City Bowl. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb, File) © Provided by The Associated Press – Sports File – Kentucky quarterback Kaya Sharon looks for an open receiver in the first half of an NCAA football game against South Carolina in Lexington, Kentucky, May 8-Oct. 1, 2022. 5) and Kentucky (7-5) in the Music City Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb, File)

Nashville, Tenn. (Associated Press) – Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops has no problem playing Iowa for the second year in a row, even though the Music City Bowl is nowhere near the Citrus Bowl, where his teams didn't finish last season.

Sure enough, the Wildcats came back late to win 20-17 and finish the season 10-3.

Iowa freshman Caleb Johnson remembers the loss well, even though he wasn't on the roster.

"I've seen everything and it makes me want to play harder and want to win," said Johnson, who has rushed for six touchdowns for the team and leads Iowa with 1,114 total yards.

Iowa (7-5) and Kentucky (7-5) finish their seasons at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans. Both teams are not qualified and each will lose several key players.

Kentucky will be without quarterback Will Lewis and linebacker Chris Rodriguez, and linebacker Kevin Meriwether opted not to join All-American linebacker Jack Campbell to lead the Iowa defense one last time. The trio chose to start preparing for the NFL draft in April.

FILE - Iowa State quarterback Jack Campbell (31) prepares to play during the first half of an NCAA football game against Nebraska, Nov. 25, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa (7-5) and Kentucky (7-5) Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022 at the Music City Bowl. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File) © Provided by Associated Press – Sports file – Iowa State quarterback Jack Campbell (31) prepares to play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Nebraska, Nov. 25, 2022 in Iowa City, IA Iowa (7-5) and Kentucky. (7-5) will meet in the Music City Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

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Campbell didn't hesitate to play his final game for Iowa State and head coach Kirk Ferenc, who tied the late Joe Paterno (10) for the most wins among Big Ten coaches.

"When I sign my national letter of intent, I'm healthy or I'm going to play because I've signed every game I can play," Campbell said.

This is Iowa's first trip to the Music City Bowl, while Kentucky is making its sixth appearance. The Wildcats are looking to finish this season with their fifth straight win and fourth straight in five seasons.

FILE - Kentucky coach Mark Stoops watches the video screen during an NCAA college football game against Louisville in Lexington, Kentucky, Nov. 26, 2022. Iowa (7-5) and Kentucky (7-5) will battle it out. . Saturday, December 31, 2022 at Music City Bowl. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb, File) © Provided by The Associated Press – SPORTS FILE – Kentucky State head coach Mark Stoops looks at the video board during an NCAA college football game against Louisville in Lexington, Kentucky, Nov. 26, 2022. ). -5) at the Music City Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb, File)

Kentucky options

Without Lewis, Kentucky won't bring in a replacement. Kia Sharon is listed as the starter for Odestine Wade on the Wildcats' updated depth chart. Sharon started for the injured Lewis, completing 15 of 27 passes for 178 yards in the loss against South Carolina.

Jutahn McClain is listed as the starter ahead of LaVell Wright as the backup. Maclin played in nine games this season and finished third in rushing with 238 yards. He had 15 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.

FILE - Iowa State head coach Kirk Ferentz in 2016. They stand on the field before Iowa's college football game against Wisconsin on Nov. 12, 2022 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa (7-5) and Kentucky (7-5) will meet in a playoff. City Bowl Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022 (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, file) © Associated Press – Sports file – Iowa State head coach Kirk Ferentz stands on the field before the NCAA college football game against Wisconsin on Nov. 12, 2022 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa (7-5) and Kentucky (7-5) Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022 at the Music City Bowl. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

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"Some guys have to play as hard as Chris," Stoops said of Rodriguez's replacements. "He's a physically strong guy and I hope they grow."

IOWA quarterback

Three-year-old Spencer Petras will not play due to injury. Alex Padilla hits the transfer window. So Ferentz will start at quarterback this season.

Redshirt freshman Joe Lapas is ready to go, with freshman Carson May as the backup. Ferentz said no one knows who the hockey team's third quarterback will be.

"It's a very unusual situation, and yes, the person who suffers the most here is Spencer, because this is an injury that requires surgery," Fernandez said. "So that part is really hard, it's hard for him to be there looking at the slingshot and all that."

Defense show

Kentucky ranks 11th nationally, allowing just 19.1 points per game, and the Wildcats ranked Georgia 16th last month. She also ranks 17th with 320.2 total yards allowed.

Campbell leads an Iowa defense that led the Bowl Subdivision giving up just 4.10 yards per game. The Hokies have given up 200 or more yards in five games while holding opponents to 13 or fewer points in nine games.

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AP College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25

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