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Hawkeyes find familiar faces in Citrus opponent
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Hawkeyes find familiar faces in Citrus opponent

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Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, shown during the Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, wrote in a letter to Hawkeye parents that an alumni advisory committee is not being disbanded but is being reorganized.

IOWA CITY – Iowa hasn’t played a football game in Orlando since 2005, but there will a familiarity to it all when the Hawkeyes face Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.

A familiar coach – the Wildcats’ Mark Stoops is a former Hawkeye defensive back.

A familiar quarterback – Kentucky’s quarterback Will Levis is a Penn State transfer who has thrown for 2,593 yards this season while leading the Wildcats to a 9-3 record.

A familiar receiver – Nebraska transfer Wan’Dale Robinson caught nine passes for 75 yards in the Cornhuskers’ 26-20 loss a year ago at Kinnick Stadium and has 1,164 receiving yards this season.

Even the venue now known as Camping World Stadium is familiar.

It was the site of the 2005 Capital One Bowl where Drew Tate threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holloway as time expired as Iowa stunned LSU in its only previous visit to Orlando.

Bowl eligible for the 20th time in Ferentz’s 23 seasons as the Hawkeyes coach, Iowa players will be given time this week to rest physically and mentally from the wear and tear of a 10-3 season and Saturday’s 42-3 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Championship Game.

“I think the guys have given it their all this season. Nothing was easy for us and we’ve had some tough, tough games in November,’’ center Tyler Linderbaum said

“The way it ended Saturday, it hurts, hurts a lot, and a bit of a break before getting ready for a great bowl and a great opponent will do us all some good.’’

Ferentz has watched Stoops, a defensive back at Iowa from 1986-88 who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes from 1990-91, build the Kentucky program.

The noon game against Iowa on New Year’s Day, a match-up televised by ABC, will be the first meeting between the Hawkeyes and Wildcats.

Ferentz is counting on that as Iowa prepares to play in a bowl for the 34th time in the program’s history.

Iowa will take orders for tickets from current season ticketholders and I-Club members beginning Monday through noon on Friday.

If any tickets remain after those priority orders are filled they will go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, Dec. 14. Additional information is available on the university’s athletics website, hawkeyesports.com.

ISU gets Clemson in Cheez-It Bowl

Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney met by chance at an airport.

The two head football coaches recognized each other, talked a bit, swapped phone numbers, and kindled a long-distance Big 12-ACC friendship.

“I don’t know if he remembers that, but I do,” said Swinney, whose No. 19 Tigers (9-3) will face Campbell’s Cyclones on Dec. 29 at 4:45 p.m. in the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

The bowl pairing was announced Sunday afternoon. Iowa State (7-5) will make its second appearance in Orlando in the past three seasons — and both times the Cyclones will have faced top-tier programs.

Iowa State lost to Notre Dame, 33-9, in the 2019 Cheez-It Bowl and now will take on storied Clemson, which owns two of the past five national championships.

—Rob Gray, Correspondent

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