February 29, 2024

ORLANDO, Fla. — The outdated saying in boxing is kinds make fights.

If that’s so, the Citrus Bowl matchup between No. 21 Tennessee and No. 17 Iowa might be an attention-grabbing tussle on New Yr’s Day.

The Volunteers (8-4) wish to stretch the sector vertically with a no-huddle offense that goals to get in as many performs as potential whereas stopping opponents from making substitutions.

The Hawkeyes (10-3), then again, rely closely on a stingy protection that forces opponents to earn every thing they get.

“It’s not simply the numbers that say they’ve a extremely good protection. You may watch the movie,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel stated. “They’re dialed in, they make you earn it. They don’t surrender a bunch of huge performs.”

Iowa’s protection was the story all season because the Hawkeyes rode the unit to a Huge Ten West title and a visit to the convention championship sport, the place they misplaced to top-ranked Michigan.

Iowa ranked fifth within the nation in complete protection, yielding 274.8 yards per sport. It was fourth in scoring protection at 13.2 factors per sport.

The Hawkeyes allowed greater than 20 factors simply twice — of their two losses to Michigan and No. 10 Penn State.

“They play extraordinarily bodily,” Tennessee offensive coordinator Joey Halzle stated. “They sort out properly in house. They scheme properly. They’re only a very sound, stable, sturdy protection from high to backside.”

Tennessee scored fewer than 20 factors solely thrice — in losses to Florida, Missouri and Georgia. The Volunteers completed seventeenth within the nation in complete offense at 453.5 yards per sport and thirty seventh in scoring at 31.5 factors per sport.

There’s a query, although, about how efficient the Tennessee offense might be Monday with out quarterback Joe Milton and operating again Jaylen Wright, who opted out of the Citrus Bowl.

Freshman Nico Iamaleava will make his first profession begin for the Volunteers rather than Milton.

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“We’re going to should play any individual again there,” Iowa cornerback Sebastian Castro stated. “It’s going to be a gifted QB. We’re simply going to should beat him the day of the sport.”

Whereas Tennessee’s offense garners plenty of consideration, the Volunteers have been stable defensively too. They ranked thirty fifth in scoring protection, permitting 22 factors per sport, and thirty eighth in complete protection at 348.7 yards per sport.

Iowa struggled mightily on offense, averaging simply 16.6 factors. That’s the fourth-lowest common within the nation.

Tennessee practiced all week at Central Florida, the outdated stomping grounds for Heupel and plenty of of his assistants. Heupel was UCF’s coach from 2018-20 earlier than leaving for Tennessee.

The Hawkeyes have a shot at ending with a minimum of 11 victories in a season for simply the fourth time at school historical past. The final time they completed with greater than 11 wins was a 12-2 season in 2015 that ended within the Rose Bowl.

Tennessee is enjoying within the Citrus Bowl for the sixth time, though it’s the group’s first look since 2002. The Volunteers are 4-1 of their 5 earlier visits.

Iowa misplaced to Kentucky within the 2022 Citrus Bowl and is making its third Citrus Bowl look general.