Hawkeye HQ predictions and pregame: Sea World and Disney and putt-putt golfing

Hawkeye Headquarters


Be honest. What do you actually know about Orlando?

Obviously you know it’s home to the happiest place on earth. In fact, 5 of the 10 most visited theme parks in the world reside in Orlando. Chances are you’ve been to one of them. The Hawkeyes went to a couple of them this week.

For most people that’s all Orlando is: theme parks.

If you’re one of those people, that’s OK. Even UCF, Orlando’s Hometown Team fell into the cliché in 2017. With all the hype in the world, fresh off a football national championship, they unveiled a rollercoaster themed basketball court design at then-CFE Arena. Absolutely terrible. Fans were not happy. They should have stuck with the black court.

The popular musical “The Book of Mormon” boils Orlando down to three things in the song Two by Two.

The exact lyrics:

“Orlando, I love you, Orlando
Sea World and Disney
And Putt-Putt Golfing”

Go listen to the song. This won’t do it justice. It’s far funnier there.

And yes, it is true that all those things can be found in the 407. Though technically Disney’s Magic Kingdom (the best park) is in Lake Buena Vista, not Orlando.

Semantics? Sure. The point being Orlando is so much more than Mickey Mouse and Butter Beer.

It is the 22nd biggest metro in the U.S. after all, and I can guarantee you most of those people are not frequent visitors of Cinderella’s Castle or the Splash Zone. That’d be far too expensive, even with that nifty Florida resident discount.

So now you might be asking what those things are.

I could tell you about:

  • The weekend farmer’s market on the shore of Lake Eola each weekend
  • How it’s the home to the second largest university in the country
  • Has two pro sports teams (Orlando City games, yes soccer, are way more fun than Orlando Magic games) and minor league hockey
  • The Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, which hosts some of the country’s biggest stage acts
  • The many golf courses (Tiger Woods is an Orlando resident)

I guess I just did. So you know what? Let’s keep going:

  • There’s one of the world’s largest McDonald’s. It used to be the largest.
  • It’s got the best tacos you’ll ever have at Gringos Locos
  • It’s got a hub for engineering. UCF was basically founded to support the space program, just short drive away at the Kennedy Space Center in Port Canaveral.
  • Several movies, including Lethal Weapon 3, Apollo 13 and Sharknado 3 were all filmed there. Orlando even blew up it’s old city hall for Lethal Weapon 3.
  • The Upside Down House on I-Drive.
  • It used to be the Citrus capital of the world until a freeze killed all the orange groves. Bet you didn’t know Florida got that cold, did you? Yeah, we put on a light jacket every once in a while.

At it’s core, yes, Orlando is a tourist destination, centered around the theme parks most people know it for. The amount of people that visit Orlando every day is equal to the population to Atlanta.

So go for the theme parks, and if you miraculously have any money left over after, stay for the countless other things the city has to offer.

And next time someone brings up Orlando, try to say something other than “Oh, I’ve been to Disney.”

Now, let’s get to some football picks.

Kickoff: Saturday, Jan 1, 1 p.m.
Location: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Spread: Kentucky -3

Hawkeye Headquarters
Zachary Winiecki: Kentucky 24, Iowa 16

National Predictions
CBS Sports
Dennis Dodd: Kentucky
Tom Fornelli: Iowa
Chip Patterson: Kentucky
Barrett Sallee: Kentucky
David Cobb: Kentucky
Shehan Jeyarajah: Kentucky
Jerry Palm: Kentucky

College Football News
Pete Fiutak: Kentucky 23, Iowa 17

Athlon Sports
Kevin McGuire: Kentucky 26, Iowa 20

The Athletic
Stewart Mandel: Iowa
Matt Fortuna: Iowa
Doug Holler: Iowa
Josh Kendall: Iowa
Jason Kersey: Kentucky
Bill Landis: Iowa
Manny Navarro: Kentucky
Joe Rexrode: Kentucky
Dan Santaromita: Kentucky
Daniel Shirley: Iowa
Audrey Snyder: Kentucky
Jason Starrett: Kentucky
Chris Vannini: Kentucky

Hawkeye State Predictions
Quad City Times
Steve Batterson: Iowa 24, Kentucky 21
The Hawkeyes’ ability to slow the Wildcats’ rushing attack and get some pressure on quarterback Will Levis looms large in this game. Iowa must gain something on the ground from Ivory Kelly-Martin, Gavin Williams or Leshon Williams to put itself in a position to win this game on a field goal by Caleb Shudak.

The Athletic
Scott Dochterman: Kentucky 19, Iowa 16

Hawkeye Mic
Brendan Stiles: Iowa 24, Kentucky 14
Tyler Tjelmeland: Kentucky 20, Iowa 16
Jack Brandsgard: Iowa 13, Kentucky 10
John Patchett: Kentucky 13, Iowa 10

#IowaSim21 simulation
Cody Hills: Iowa 10, Kentucky 6 

Totally relevant irrelevant prediction simulation
The artist formerly known as HawkeyeHQ.com’s Ryan Jaster: Iowa 27, Kentucky 24

Hawkeye Bunnies
Peabody: Iowa
Bun Jovi: Kentucky

Consensus: A lot of Kentucky picks here. SEC bias? Even with the 1-5 record in bowl games thus far for “the best conference in college football.” Both sides will be missing players, Tyler Goodson most notably for the Hawkeyes. Without their top rusher and a Kentucky defense that ranked fourth in the SEC against the run. Though the Wildcats too will likely be without a big piece of that defense in All-SEC defensive end Josh Paschal, due to injury. The Iowa defense is always steady, and they’ve seen Kentucky starting quarterback Will Levis before. Iowa got the win there. The Wildcats have several playmakers, most notably Wan’Dale Robinson. Kentucky is coming off a game where they had a ridiculous 362 yards on the ground. Meanwhile the Hawkeyes gave up 211 their last time out against Michigan. Which offense will make more plays? The Wildcats have their best playmaker, the Hawkeyes do not. That could be the difference.

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