Iowa vs. Tennessee Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for Citrus Bowl

College football bowl preview, prediction and best bets for Iowa vs. Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl.

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III (7) throws the ball during the NCAA college football game
Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III (7) throws the ball during the NCAA college football game / Angelina Alcantar/News Sentinel / USA

Iowa and Tennessee meet in the Citrus Bowl as each team brings contrasting offensive philosophies to the field.

Tennessee's up-tempo offense behind play caller Josh Heupel will take on one of the most stout defenses in Iowa, who also are arguably the worst offense in the Power Five level. This differing play style should make for an interesting set up, how should we bet this game?

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Iowa vs. Tennessee Odds, Spread and Total

Tennessee vs. Iowa Betting Trends

  • Iowa is 6-6-1 against the spread (ATS) this season
  • Tennessee is 6-6 ATS this season
  • Iowa has gone UNDER in 11 of 13 games this season
  • Tennessee has gone OVER in six of 12 games this season (1 push)
  • Iowa's Kirk Ferentz is 12-6-1 ATS in bowl games

Iowa vs. Tennessee How to Watch

  • Date: Monday, Jan. 1
  • Game Time: 1:00 PM EST
  • Venue: Camping World Stadium
  • How to Watch (TV): ABC
  • Iowa Record: 10-3
  • Tennessee Record: 8-4

Iowa vs. Tennessee Key Players to Watch


Deacon Hill: Hill has stepped in for Cade McNamara this season and done his best to try and lift a dismal Iowa offense up, but to little success. The Hawkeyes are dead last in both EPA/Play and success rate this season and Hill has five touchdown passes to six interceptions while averaging less than four yards per dropback.


Joe Milton: Heupel's offense became arguably the most dangerous in the country last year when Hendon Hooker was healthy, but Milton wasn't able to capture the same success in 2023 with poor deep ball accuracy. The Vols offense was right around the national average in EPA/Play this season as the team became focused more on the ground game as Milton's shortcomings were on display in the team's four losses, scoring 20 or fewer in each loss.

Iowa vs. Tennessee Prediction and Pick

It's a tense proposition to take an under in a Tennessee game that has a total in the 30's given how fast the team plays, but I can't trust the Vols to put up points against Iowa's elite defense.

Tennessee is second in the country in plays per minute, running nearly three plays for every 60 seconds, while Iowa is outside the top 100 in the same metric. The Vols want to play fast, but ultimately, the offense has been far less effective than its speed would indicate. Tennessee is just 45th in EPA/Play this season and is 39th in points per drive while posting the 13th lowest red zone touchdown percentage in the country.

Factor in the Vols won't have 1,000-yard rusher Jaylen Wright (NFL Draft), and this Tennessee offense may struggle to move the ball often against an Iowa defense that is third in EPA/Play on defense. The Hawkeyes are built around its elite defense and playing field position and I believe Tennessee gets dragged into that type of stylistic battle given Milton's inefficient play.

I expect a ton of third and longs for the Vols against Iowa's defensive line that is eighth in yards per carry allowed and fifth in success rate. That's not where Tennessee wants to be. On throws that are 10 yards or further this season, Milton is completing 49-of-129 passes, just 37.9% of his passes.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's defense has been rock solid this season and get to feast on a miserable offense in Iowa. The Vols are top 10 in tackles for loss and 28th in yards per play allowed. While Iowa could set up Tennessee with a short field given the team's inability to execute on offense, the Vols haven't forced many TO's this season, just 15 on the year (84th in the country).

It's not pretty, but I think this game is a typical Hawkeyes contest, a low scoring one.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Track Reed's bets here!