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Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes leads the team on the field before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers as we look at our Iowa-Tennessee prediction.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes leads the team on the field before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images/AFP.

The Iowa Hawkeyes clash with the Tennessee Volunteers as we make the best Iowa vs. Tennessee prediction for the Citrus Bowl based on the best college football odds at the top college football betting sites.

In 2023, the Iowa Hawkeyes held a commendable 10-3 record but encountered hurdles, particularly with their offense, which faltered while averaging 16.6 points per game despite boasting a formidable fourth-ranked scoring defense. This raises concerns about their capability to outscore the Tennessee Volunteers. The looming question revolves around whether the Hawkeyes' offense can rise to the occasion, complementing their robust defense to clinch a win against Tennessee.

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III announced his decision to opt out of the game for the Volunteers. In his absence, the reins will be taken over by Nico Iamaleava, a freshman who has played in just four games this season, and the best sports betting sites have adjusted their odds accordingly.

As part of our look at all college bowl game odds, here is our best Iowa vs. Tennessee prediction and our college football picks for Monday's Citrus Bowl (odds via our best college football betting sites; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Iowa vs. Tennessee prediction: Citrus Bowl

Under 36 (-112 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

With Milton III out, all of the Volunteers’ season-long stats can be thrown out. An entirely different offense will be on the field on Monday, and they will face one of the hardest tasks in college football. Even if Iamaleava ends up having a great career, he’s going to struggle against a defense that has allowed fewer than 20 points to every team other than the Penn State Nittany Lions and Michigan Wolverines this season.

But the Hawkeyes aren’t the only good defense in this game. The Volunteers allow just 22.8 points per game, the 35th-best mark in the country. Considering the Hawkeyes have scored more than 20 points just once in their last eight games, it’s not hard to imagine the Volunteers’ defense posting great numbers on Monday.

Opt-outs and transfers change the betting landscape of bowl games at the college football betting sites, but there is nothing to suggest that either of these teams can score more than 20 in Monday’s game. In fact, with the offenses they’re putting on the field, a total in the 20s seems more likely than one in the 30s.

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Iowa vs. Tennessee best odds

DraftKings (-112)

Under 36Under 35.5Under 35Under 35Under 35

Three of the five major best sportsbooks have this total listed at 35. While each of those college football betting sites is asking -110 for the under, it is smarter to take under 36 for -112 at DraftKings.

If the price for Under 35 were +100 or better, then we’d recommend taking that number. After all, we do believe this game will end with a final score in the 20s. But with the price discrepancy as small as it is, getting an extra point for a slightly worse price is worth it.

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Iowa vs. Tennessee odds

Iowa vs. Tennessee odds analysis

The total for this game opened at 35.5, and the number has moved in different directions depending on the college football betting sites. The total has increased at DraftKings while falling at BetMGM, Caesars, and bet365. At the moment, 59% of bettors back the Over, but the best sportsbooks don’t seem too concerned with that. If the Over continues to see this type of support, but the total doesn’t go up, then oddsmakers are feeling good about the Under.

The Volunteers opened as seven-point favorites, but the spread has dropped below the key number at the best sports betting apps. With Milton III out, a full touchdown seems like a lot, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see this number drop to 5.5 or 6 before kickoff. 53% of bettors are backing the Hawkeyes to cover at the moment.

Citrus Bowl game info

  • When: Monday, January 1 at 1:00 p.m. ET
  • Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
  • How to watch: ABC
  • Weather: 68 degrees, 7-mph winds, 1% chance of precipitation

Iowa vs. Tennessee prediction made Friday at 9:57 a.m. ET.

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