The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Live updates | Iowa football takes on Tennessee in Cheez-It Citrus Bowl

The No. 17 Hawkeyes look to take home the trophy against the No. 21 Volunteers, who are stricken with opt outs at key positions.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel speaks during a press conference with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Heupel at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023. The teams match up at Camping World Stadium on Monday, Jan. 1, at noon CT. “There are so many people that go into reestablishing the foundational pieces of one of the greatest programs in the history of college football, and we have to continue to grow,” Heupel said.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Iowa football team looks to start 2024 strong by notching its first ‘W’ of the calendar year Monday against Tennesee in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl. The Hawkeyes won last season’s bowl game, also against an SEC opponent, defeating Kentucky in shutout fashion. In this year’s matchup against the Volunteers, there will be plenty of similarities.

Back in the Music City Bowl, it was a battle of backup quarterbacks, as Iowa’s Joe Labas squared off his Kentucky counterpart Destin Wade. This time around, it will be second-string signal caller Deacon Hill under center for the Hawkeyes, while the Volunteers will trot out true freshman Nico Iamaleava.

Tennesee’s starting QB throughout the season has been Michigan transfer Joe Milton III, who has completed 64.89 percent of his passes for 2,813 yards. On Wednesday, Milton announced he would not participate against the Hawkeyes, opting out in favor of the NFL Draft.

Iamaleava, a five-star recruit and the No. 2 prospect in the country, per 247 Sports, has only played in mop-up duty this season, completing 16 tosses, including one touchdown. Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker said this week that the 6-foot-6, 206-pounder plays in similar fashion to Milton, but might be a little more mobile than his teammate.

Against Wade, the Hawkeyes scored two defensive touchdowns and limited the QB to just 98 yards through the air. Parker’s unit will look to do the same against what has been a potent Tennesee offensive attack, which averages 453.5 yards per game — good enough for top ten in the nation.

Also not in action for Tennessee will be its two starting running backs: Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small, each of whom opted out. The pair have combined for six rushing scores and have each averaged at least five yards per carry. In their stead will be backup Dylan Sampson, who leads the team in rushing touchdowns with seven.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Volunteers will be missing a sizeable portion of their secondary, as defensive backs Doneiko Slaughter (Arkansas), De’Shawn Rucker (University of South Florida), Brandon Turnage, Warren Burrell (Georiga Tech), and safety Jack Luttrell (Arizona), have all entered the transfer portal.

Looking to exploit this deficiency will be Hill, who has completed less than half of his passes and has not thrown a touchdown since Nov. 18 against Illinois. Hawkeye offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said backup Marco Lainez will not appear in the contest barring injury to the starter, so it will be up to Hill to lead what has been a lukewarm-at-best Hawkeye offense against Tennessee, which has held its opponents to 22 points per game this season.

This is a developing story. Check back for live updates.

COIN TOSS: Tennessee wins the toss and chooses to defer. Iowa will receive the opening kickoff. After a touchback, Iowa will take over at their own 25-yard line.

12:54 1Q: Iowa starts the game with a four-yard completion to wide receiver Nico Ragaini. Two plays later, quarterback Deacon Hill gets taken down by Tennessee defender Elijah Herring.

10:11 1Q: A Tory Taylor punt sets up the Volunteers at their own 16-yard line.  Two penalties early by the Tennessee offense back them up to the six-yard line. Some plays later, quarterback Nico Lamaleava is sacked by Iowa defensive end Joe Evans. Tenn punter Josh Turbyville shanks a punt to set up Iowa’s offense in enemy territory.

4:55 1Q: Iowa starts its second possession with a pass to wide receiver Kaleb Brown for a gain of 11 yards. Later on third-and-10, freshman running back Terrell Washington Jr. rushes up the middle for a gain of 14 and the first down. Two plays later, in the red zone, Hill’s pass to Ragaini is intercepted by Tennessee defensive back Andre Turrentine in the end zone. Tennessee’s offense will take over at their own 20-yard line.

3:46 1Q:  Tennessee drives the ball 32 yards before Iamaleava’s pass intended for running back Dylan Sampson is broken up. Bringing Turbyville onto the field to punt to Iowa’s Wetjen, which is returned for negative one-yard. The Hawkeye offense will take over at their eight-yard line.

2:07 1Q: Iowa goes three and out, gaining just seven yards, and comes up short on third-and-3 after Brown drops a first-down pass over the middle from Hill. Taylor’s punt goes 55 yards, and Volunteer returner Dee Williams returns it 40 yards, but the play is overturned to a loss of three yards after replay shows Williams was tacked earlier by defensive back Koen Entringer.

14:54 2Q, Tennessee 7, Iowa 0: The Volunteers quickly drive the ball 55 yards into enemy territory before Iamaleava gets taken down by Iowa defensive lineman Joe Evans on first-and-10, his second sack of the game so far. The next play from Iowa’s 19-yard line, Iamaleava rushes up the middle on a quarterback draw and easily scores the game’s first points. Tennessee’s Charles Campbell converts on the extra point to make 7-0 for the Volunteers. 

13:21 2Q, Tennessee 7, Iowa 0: A 23-yard return by Wetjen starts Iowa at their 35-yard line. After a flag backs up Iowa to their 16-yard line, a third-and-24 pass from Hill to Brown is dropped short of the first down. Taylor comes out, and Williams fair catches the punt at the Tennessee 32-yard line.

8:12 2Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0:Iamaleava and company drive it 34 yards before running back Cameron Seldon rushes it up the middle for three yards on a fourth-and-1. After the play, Iowa defensive back Deshaun Lee gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, which brings the Volunteers to the Iowa 16-yard line. Later on second-and-goal, Iamaleava keeps it himself and rushes three yards for another Tennessee touchdown. A Campbell extra point brings it to 14-0 here in Orlando. 

6:03 2Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0: A ‘pooch’ kick starts Iowa at their own 31-yard line. Running back Kaleb Johnson rushes along the left sideline for a gain of 15 yards…Three straight incompletions from Hill brings the special teams unit back on the field on a fourth-and-9, and Taylor’s punt goes 53-yard out of the end zone to set up Tennessee at their 20-yard line.

3:53 2Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0: On third-and-5, the Hawkeyes bring a blitz, and Iamaleava gets sacked by linebacker Jay Higgins. Tennessee punter Jackson Ross kicks it 48 -yards, and Iowa takes over at their own 21-yard line. 

1:43 2Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0:  Iowa starts its possession with a 14-yard pick up to Kaleb Brown on a play-action pass to advance them to their 35-yard line. Three plays later on third-and-f, Hill’s pass to Ragaini is too high for the sixth-year receiver. Taylor’s punt goes 43 yards, and Tennessee takes over at their 13-yard line after a John Nestor tackle on Williams.

0:00 2Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0: The Volunteers’ offense goes just 31 yards before failing to pick up the first down on third-and-15. Later, Tennessee punts it to Iowa with 21 seconds remaining in the quarter, and a Leshon Williams seven-yard run closes out the first half.

13:20 3Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0: Tennessee receives the ball to start the second half at their 25-yard line after a touchback by Iowa kicker Drew Stevens. The Volunteers get into Iowa territory after an 18-yard pass from Iamaleava to receiver Squirrel White. Three plays later, on third-and-8, defensive end Joe Evans notches his third sack of the day on Iamaleava, and Jackson’s punt goes 40 yards to set up Iowa at their own six-yard line. 

10:52 3Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0: Iowa goes three and out after a two-yard run by running back Jaziun Patterson. Taylor’s punt goes 53 yards and is fair caught by Williams at the Tennessee 37-yard line.

9:28 3Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0: Tennessee goes three and out after accounting for just nine total yards. Turbyville’s punt is fair caught by Wetjen at the Iowa 10-yard line, but Tennessee specialist Ramel Keyton gets flagged for kick catch interference, advancing Iowa to the 25-yard line.

7:58 3Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0: Iowa starts the drive with Hill getting sacked for a loss of 10 yards. On the next play, Hill finds Brown across the middle for a gain of 14 yards. Iowa fails to convert on third-and-6 with Hill’s pass intended to tight end Addison Ostrenga going incomplete… Taylor’s punt goes 47 yards and is fair caught at the Tennessee 24-yard line.

3:50 3Q, Tennessee 14, Iowa 0:  The Volunteers drive the ball 28 yards down the field but fail to pick up the first down on third-and-7 after Iamaleava gets tripped up escaping the pocket. Turbyville’s punt goes 44 yards and is downed at the Iowa four-yard line by a Tennessee specialist. 

1:43 3Q, Tennessee 21, Iowa 0: On second-and-2, Iamaleava scrambles to the left and dives into the end zone for his third rushing touchdown of the game. Campbell’s extra point is good to extend Tennessee’s lead to 21. 

14:15 4Q, Tennessee 28, Iowa 0: Iowa starts at their own 25-yard line, and Hill rushes up the middle for a gain of 10 yards and the first down. Two plays later, Hill drops back and finds Ostrenga for a gain of nine yards. On fourth-and-1, Iowa converts after a five-yard rush by Patterson. On the next play, Hill’s pass intended for Brown is intercepted by Pearce, who brings it back 52 yards for a touchdown.

8:04 4Q, Tennessee 28, Iowa 0: Iowa comes out with quarterback Marco Lainez instead of Hill, who rushes for 10 yards up the middle on the drive’s first play. Lainez would drive the Hawkeyes all the way to the Tennessee 22-yard line before failing to convert on a fourth-and-6 pass to Ragaini.

4:48 4Q, Tennessee 35, Iowa 0: The Volunteers drive the ball 58 yards before Iamaleava finds tight end McCallan Castles open for an 18-yard touchdown in the red zone. Campbell’s extra point is good to extend Tennessee’s lead to 35. 

3:17 4Q, Tennessee 35, Iowa 0: Iowa starts the drive with a five-yard play-action pass from Lainez to Ostrenga. Three plays later, on fourth-and-1, Lainez’s pass to Ragaini is incomplete, and Tennessee’s offense is heading back on the field.

0:00 4Q, Tennessee 35, Iowa 0: The Volunteers start at the Iowa 34-yard line. After an offsides penalty by Iowa on fourth-and-4, Tennessee running back Keith rushed for one yard, and the game will finish here in Orlando. Tennessee wins the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl.

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About the Contributors
Cooper Worth
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.