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

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George Walker IV/USA TODAY NETWORK
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joe Labas threw for 139 yards and a touchdown in his first start and the Iowa Hawkeyes posted the first shutout in the Music City Bowl’s 24 years by beating Kentucky 21-0 Saturday.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz also capped his 24th season by matching the late Joe Paterno for the most bowl victories among Big Ten coaches with his 10th.

Iowa (8-5) got a bit of payback for ending last season losing to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl after a late comeback by the Wildcats. The Hawkeyes defense outscored its offense, 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 straight.

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.

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.

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.

THE TAKEAWAY

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

Kentucky: The Wildcats gave Wade, from nearby Spring Hill, some experience even with Devin Leary coming in the transfer portal to replace Levis. 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.

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

Iowa’s Jack Campbell honored as college football’s top scholar

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LAS VEGAS — Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell won the William V. Campbell Trophy, becoming the first player from the school to be named college football’s top scholar-athlete.

Campbell, the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year, receives a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation.

Campbell received the award at the NFF’s Hall of Fame induction banquet.

He was one of 15 finalists from all levels of college football up for the award that recognizes combined academic and athletic performance as well as exemplary leadership.

Campbell is on target to graduate in December with a degree in enterprise leadership and sport and recreation management. He is a two-time academic all-Big Ten honoree.

The other finalists were Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez; Auburn kicker Anders Carlson; Dayton running back Jake Chisholm; Chicago running back Nicholas D’Ambrose; Fordham linebacker Ryan Greenhagen; Yale defensive lineman Oso Ifesinachukwu; UTSA offensive lineman Ahofitu Maka; Holy Cross running back Peter Oliver; Stanford offensive lineman Walter Rouse; Troy offensive lineman Austin Stidham; Wayne State linebacker Julius Wilkerson; Mississippi State receiver Austin Williams; Johns Hopkins offensive lineman JR Woods; and Saint John’s (Minnesota) defensive lineman Michael Wozniak.

QB Cade McNamara leaving Michigan, transferring to Iowa

Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Cade McNamara, the backup quarterback at Michigan this season, has announced he’ll transfer to Iowa.

McNamara tweeted “New Beginning” with a picture of him in an Iowa uniform Thursday night. He presumably will go into next season as the front-runner for the starting job and have two seasons of eligibility.

McNamara started every game for the Wolverines in 2021 but lost the job to J.J. McCarthy after the opener. McNamara appeared in the second and third games, taking a total of 16 snaps, and didn’t play again.

The Hawkeyes (7-5) finished the regular season 130th out of 131 Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense and averaged just 17.4 points per game.

Spencer Petras struggled most of the season as Iowa’s starter and missed most of last week’s game against Nebraska with an upper body injury. He has one year of eligibility, if he decides to use the waiver granted because of the COVID-19 season in 2020.

Alex Padilla, who backed up Petras, is in the transfer portal. Joe Labas also is on the roster.