Outback Bowl: Take 5

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TAMPA, Fla. — For the fifth time in 12 years the University of Iowa football team wraps its season in Tampa, Florida, at the Outback Bowl. The 21st-ranked Hawkeyes are the home team against 17th-ranked Florida when the 2017 Outback Bowl kicks off today at noon (CT) on ABC.

Monday’s game is a rubber match for two reasons. The Hawkeyes split their previous four Outback Bowl games, including a pair of games against the Gators. Iowa defeated Florida, 37-17, in 2004 and lost to the Gators, 31-24, in 2006.

In their other two Outback Bowl appearances, the Hawkeyes defeated South Carolina, 31-10, in 2009, and lost to LSU, 21-14, in 2014.

Kirk Ferentz has been Iowa’s head coach in each of the program’s five Outback Bowl appearances, and he has faced a different head coach in all five games. Jim McElwain is leading Florida this season. The Gators were coached by Ron Zook in 2004 and Urban Meyer in 2006. South Carolina was coached by Steve Spurrier in 2009, and LSU was led by Les Miles in 2014.

Florida is also making its fifth appearance at the Outback Bowl. The Gators are 2-2 all-time. Iowa and Florida tie Georgia (3-2), Michigan (3-2), and Wisconsin (2-3) for most Outback Bowl appearances.

A look back at Iowa’s previous four appearances:

2004 Outback Bowl
Iowa 37, Florida 17
January 1, 2004, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

TAMPA, Florida — After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, Iowa scored 27 unanswered points to defeat No. 17 Florida, 37-17, in the 2004 Outback Bowl.  The victory was Iowa’s first over the Gators and its first January bowl win since the 1959 Rose Bowl.

Florida opened the scoring with a 70-yard touchdown before wide receiver Maurice Brown caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nathan Chandler to even the game at seven late in the first quarter. Place kicker Nate Kaeding converted a 47-yard field goal to give Iowa a 10-7 lead, and the Hawkeyes followed with a Chandler 5-yard scoring run. A 32-yard Kaeding field goal gave Iowa a 20-7 halftime lead.

On the Gators first possession of the second half , Matt Melloy blocked the punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. It marked the first time in Iowa bowl history that a Hawkeye player both blocked and recovered a punt for a touchdown.

The Gators added a field goal on their next possession, but Iowa answered with a running back Fred Russell 34-yard touchdown to pull further in front, 34-10. Kaeding added a 38-yard field goal to end Iowa’s scoring.

Russell finished with 204 all-purpose yards and was named Outback Bowl MVP. He carried the ball 21 times for 150 yards and one touchdown and returned three kickoffs for 54 yards. Chandler completed 13-of-25 passes for 170 yards, one passing touchdown, one rushing score, and no interceptions. Brown caught six passes for 96 yards and one score.

Defensively, linebacker Abdul Hodge registered eight stops (three solo, five assists). Defensive tackle Tyler Luebke, defensive end Matt Roth, and defensive end Howard Hodges each recorded one sack.

2006 Outback Bowl
Florida — 31, Iowa — 24
January 2, 2006, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

TAMPA, Florida — Florida scored the game’s first 17 points and held off a late Iowa surge to win, 31-24, in the 2006 Outback Bowl. The Gators blocked and returned an Iowa punt for a score on Iowa’s first possession to take a 7-0 advantage. Florida then added a 21-yard field goal and returned an interception 60 yards to take a 17-0 lead with 1:57 left in the first half.

Iowa scored its first points on a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Tate to wide receiver Clinton Solomon. The Gators answered the Hawkeye score with a touchdown with one second left in the period to take a 24-7 halftime advantage.

Florida added a 38-yard touchdown pass for the only score of the third quarter, but Iowa rallied to score 17 fourth-quarter points to make for an exciting finish. Wide receiver Ed Hinkel caught touchdown passes of 4 and 14 yards from Tate, while place kicker Kyle Schlicher converted a 45-yard field goal to cut the Florida lead to 34-21 with 1:24 left. Iowa’s comeback fell short as the Hawkeyes failed to recover an onside kick. On the previous play, Iowa recovered the onside kick, only to be flagged for an offside penalty.

Tate completed 32-of-55 passes for 346 yards and three scores; the 32 pass completions and 55 attempts established Iowa bowl records. Hinkel caught a team-high nine passes for 87 yards and tied an Iowa bowl record with two touchdown receptions. Damian Sims tied an Iowa bowl record with five kickoff returns for 107 yards.

Florida quarterback Chris Leak completed 25-of-40 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Leak’s two touchdown passes went to Outback Bowl MVP, wide receiver Dallas Baker, who caught 10 passes for 147 yards.

Linebacker Abdul Hodge recorded an Outback Bowl and Iowa bowl record 19 tackles (14 solo) to lead the Hawkeye defense. Defensive backs Antwan Allen and Marcus Paschal each added 10 tackles, while linebacker Chad Greenway recorded nine stops.

2009 Outback Bowl
Iowa — 31, South Carolina — 10
January 1, 2009, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

TAMPA, Florida — Iowa forced five turnovers and scored the game’s first 31 points en route to a convincing 31-10 victory against South Carolina at the 2009 Outback Bowl in Raymond James Stadium.

Running back Shonn Greene was named the bowl’s Most Valuable Player after rushing for 121 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries. The three rushing scores are Iowa bowl records.

Quarterback Ricky Stanzi completed 13-of-19 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. He completed a 6-yard touchdown to wide receiver Trey Stross on Iowa’s opening drive. Iowa’s tight ends combined for seven receptions and 92 yards — Brandon Myers had four catches for 49 yards, while Tony Moeaki had three for 43 yards.

Iowa led 21-0 at halftime on two Greene 1-yard runs and Stross’ 6-yard touchdown reception. Place kicker Daniel Murray converted an 18-yard field goal and Greene scored his third touchdown from 11 yards out to stretch Iowa’s cushion to 31-0. The Gamecocks scored the final 10 points on a 10-yard pass and a 48-yard field goal.

Defensively, Iowa collected three interceptions, which ties as an Iowa bowl record, and recovered two fumbles. Four of the five South Carolina miscues came in the first 30 minutes. Strong safety Tyler Sash tied an Outback Bowl and Iowa bowl record with two thefts. He returned the two interceptions 74 total yards, which is an Iowa bowl record. Defensive back Bradley Fletcher recorded the other interception in the end zone and also forced a fumble. Linebacker A. J. Edds recovered both South Carolina fumbles. Linebacker Pat Angerer had six tackles and a sack and linebacker Jeremiha Hunter was credited with four tackles, including two for loss, and a pass break-up.

2014 Outback Bowl
LSU — 21, Iowa — 14
Jan. 1, 2014, Outback Bowl, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

TAMPA, Florida — No. 14 LSU scored 14-first-half points and ultimately held on to defeat Iowa, 21-14, at the 2014 Outback Bowl in Tampa.

The Tigers drove 77 yards on the first possession of the game to grab a 7-0 advantage. In the second quarter, LSU capitalized on a Kevonte Martin-Manley fumbled punt at the 39-yard line, scoring seven plays later on a 14-yard rush to take a 14-0 halftime lead.

Strong safety John Lowdermilk provided Iowa a spark in the third quarter, intercepting quarterback Anthony Jennings and returning his first career theft 71 yards to the 1-yard line. Three plays later running back Mark Weisman scored on a 2-yard rush to cut the deficit to 14-7.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Iowa marched inside the LSU red zone, but a fourth-down interception at the LSU 8-yard line thwarted a game-tying scoring drive.

LSU scored its third touchdown on a Jeremy Hill 37-yard rush, his second of the game, with 1:50 left to play.

Iowa’s Jordon Cotton returned the ensuing kickoff a career-long 96 yards to the LSU 4-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback C.J. Beathard connected with Martin-Manley in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown for the final score.  Iowa was unable to recover the ensuing onside kick.

Quarterback Jake Rudock completed 9-of-22 passes for 102 yards before leaving in the third period because of injury. Beathard completed 4-of-7 passes for 55 yards and a score. Weisman rushed 18 times for 37 yards, while tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz caught a game-high four passes for 46 yards.