Iowa posts 1st Music City Bowl shutout, tops Kentucky 21-0

Dec 31, 2022, 12:38 AM | Updated: 2:51 pm

Iowa defensive back Dallas Craddieth, center, holds up the trophy as he celebrates with teammates a...

Iowa defensive back Dallas Craddieth, center, holds up the trophy as he celebrates with teammates after they defeated Kentucky in the Music City Bowl NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Joe Labas threw for 139 yards and a touchdown in his first start and Iowa posted the first shutout in the Music City Bowl’s 24-year history by beating Kentucky 21-0 Saturday.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz capped his 24th season by matching the late Joe Paterno for the most bowl victories among Big Ten coaches with his 10th. This was the Hawkeyes’ second shutout in a bowl game, following the 1996 Alamo Bowl, and the first by a Big Ten team since Penn State beat Texas A&M in the 1999 Alamo Bowl.

“I’m not the smartest guy in the world,” Ferentz said. “One thing I’ve learned: If they can’t score, then you got a shot that you’re not going to lose. I know that. So if we could’ve written the script, it was perfect. Just really happy.”

Iowa (8-5) got a bit of payback for ending last season by losing to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl after a late comeback by the Wildcats. The Hawkeyes’ defense outscored its offense in this one, returning two interceptions for TDs in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes finished the season with their fifth win in six games.

Kentucky (7-6) lost for the third time in four games, this time without quarterback Will Levis and running back Chris Rodriguez, as both opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. The loss ended the Wildcats’ school-record streak of bowl wins at four.

“Both of us were down some players and a bit shorthanded, and they did what they had to do to win the football game,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.

The Hawkeyes scored all their points in the second quarter to seize control, scoring twice 11 seconds apart early in the quarter.

Taking his first snaps in a college game with Spencer Petras out with an upper-body injury, Labas hit Sam LaPorta with a short pass that the tight end took 27 yards, pushing through defenders. Labas then found Luke Lachey for a short pass, and the tight end finished off a 15-yard touchdown with 12:08 left.

“I was a little nervous at first, but to get those those (first three completions on the opening drive), it really helped a lot,” Labas said.

Drew Stevens pushed the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, setting Kentucky up at the 35. Freshman Destin Wade, also making his collegiate debut, was picked off by Iowa safety Xavier Nwankpa, who went 52 yards for the 14-0 lead.

Bowl MVP Cooper DeJean picked off Wade on third-and-10 from the Kentucky 7 and easily ran 14 yards for a 21-0 lead.

“Our guys hustle when there is a turnover,” Ferentz said. “They’re trying to make it more than just, you know, getting possession.”

The Hawkeyes didn’t miss All-American defensive back Kaevon Merriweather, who opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. They posted their second shutout this season, holding Kentucky to 185 yards while sacking Wade four times and forcing the Wildcats to turn it over on downs twice.


Iowa: The Hawkeyes must improve on offense, especially after losing All-American linebacker Jack Campbell. This was the Hawkeyes’ sixth game this season posting 222 yards of total offense or less.

Kentucky: Stoops made clear he wanted a look at the future in starting Wade, from nearby Spring Hill, even with Devin Leary arriving via the transfer portal. Wade finished with 98 yards passing and 29 yards rushing as Kentucky was shut out for the first time since Oct. 19, 2019, in a loss to Georgia. The Wildcats are between offensive coordinators, and Iowa came in ranked sixth nationally, allowing just 14.4 points a game.

“He was put in a tough situation, so he will learn from it without a doubt,” Stoops said of Wade.


Ferentz shared after the game that Campbell’s grandfather died Friday night as the result of a traffic accident. William Smith, 76, was walking with family members when he may not have heard a warning not to cross a street. He was hit by a van and declared dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Iowa officials said Campbell’s parents told him about his grandfather’s death after the game, “so that Jack would have one last time to play with his Iowa Hawkeye teammates.”

Campbell led Iowa with 10 tackles and had a sack and two tackles for loss.


Iowa: Hosts Utah State on Sept. 2 to start the 2023 season.

Kentucky: Hosts Ball State on Sept. 2 to start the 2023 season.


More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Iowa posts 1st Music City Bowl shutout, tops Kentucky 21-0