The Iowa Hawkeyes will play a bowl rematch against the Kentucky Wildcats in Nashville’s Music City Bowl, New Year’s Eve at 11 a.m. Both teams finished the regular season 7-5, and Kentucky beat Iowa in the Citrus Bowl last year, 20-17.

Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (1) catches a pass in front of Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner (28) for a 34-yard gain during the first half of the Citrus Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


The Music City Bowl invited Iowa two years ago, but Missouri canceled due to a COVID team outbreak. Iowa had won six games in a row. This year, Iowa is coming off a disappointing home loss to 4-8 Nebraska, 24-17. Quarterback questions loom over this bowl.

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis is a projected first round NFL draft pick, so it will be interesting to see if Levis plays. The guess here is he won’t. Levis says he’ll decide soon. With the portal, and concern of injuries before the NFL draft, minor bowl games are increasingly seen as exhibition games. More practices, and a reward for players still around, not to mention traveling fans.

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis throws a pass during an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)


Iowa’s starting quarterback against Nebraska, Spencer Petras, was injured and did not finish the game. Kirk Ferentz says Petras will not play in the bowl game. His back-up, Alex Padilla has entered the transfer portal. Next year’s expected starter, Cade McNamara, is not eligible, and just had surgery on his knee anyway. All this means Joey Labas’ first game action at Iowa could come in a bowl. Ferentz says true freshman Carson May will also take snaps in practice and have a shot at QB1.

Iowa quarterback Joey Labas (5) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Indiana, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Receivers Arland Bruce and Keagan Johnson, along with running back Gavin Williams have all also entered the portal. Star tight end Sam LaPorta missed the Nebraska game with an injury. All-Big Ten defensive back Cooper DeJean was injured. Ferentz said he expects DeJean and LaPorta to play in the bowl. (It’s unknown if any Hawkeyes will opt out of the bowl game.)

Kentucky is coached by former Hawkeye Mark Stoops. The Wildcats have won four straight bowls, including the one over Iowa. The Hawkeyes have won three of four.

Photos: AP