Editor’s Note: The Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet runs from 6-8:45 p.m. (CT) on Monday, Dec. 4. The show can be seen Thursday, Dec. 7 on the CBS Sports Network, at 6 p.m. CT.
By DARREN MILLER
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Attending a fifth bowl game in five seasons with the University of Iowa football program can make a guy feel about 37,000 feet tall.
That is actually the altitude senior linebacker Josey Jewell was flying when word leaked that the Hawkeyes would face Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27 in Yankee Stadium in New York, New York. When the announcement was made, Jewell was in transit to Charlotte for the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet that will be held Monday.
“It’s another opportunity to play a game against a good team,” Jewell said from the Hyatt Place in Charlotte. “It should be exciting. An extra game at the end of the schedule is always nice to have, no matter where you are going. We’ll have to enjoy this one, go 100 percent, and try to get our first bowl win in a while.”
Jewell’s initiation into postseason play was as a first-year redshirt at the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, 2014. He obviously did not suit up during Iowa’s 21-14 loss to LSU.
Jewell was a bright spot Jan. 2, 2015, in the TaxSlayer Bowl — a 45-28 loss to Tennessee. He was named Iowa’s Most Valuable Player after starting at weak-side linebacker and compiling 14 tackles.
As a sophomore, Jewell started at middle linebacker in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016, against Stanford. He shared the team lead in tackles (with safety Miles Taylor) with seven, but again the Hawkeyes lost, 45-16.
Last season — Iowa’s fourth consecutive January bowl game — Jewell led the Hawkeyes with 10 tackles (eight solo) during a 30-3 loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl. Jewell added a sack and a pass break-up.
“There is a lot of importance put on bowl games and we need to play detailed football, finish the season, and win the game,” Jewell said.
Jewell has accomplished much in his storied collegiate career. After the 2017 season, where Iowa finished 7-5, he was named first-team All-Big Ten Conference and also earned the league’s Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year and the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year honors.
He is one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation’s best defensive player), is a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, and a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. He was named the recipient of the Jack Lambert Trophy (nation’s best linebacker according to the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio). His 426 career tackles rank fifth in Hawkeye history.
But Iowa hasn’t finished a season with a victory since defeating Missouri, 27-24, in the 2010 Insight Bowl. That fact has motivated Jewell for some time.
“You want to go week-by-week and focus on the week ahead of you and not worry about the weeks after,” he said. “Now that we’re here to the bowl game and we haven’t won one in a while, it is important for the team and seniors to go out with a win and get a bowl win we haven’t gotten in so long.”
Iowa’s opponent — Boston College — has a familiar face on its sideline in defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Jim Reid. Reid was with the Hawkeyes as linebackers coach from 2013-15, where one of his star pupils was Jewell.
“He was a good coach, we all liked him, it was good to have him,” Jewell said. “I learned a lot of things from him — how to compete, how to go out as a linebacker, what to read — a lot of the fundamental stuff I learned came from him. Coach (Seth) Wallace has been a great (linebackers) coach, too. Both are fundamental guys who are focused on small details.
“It should be fun to see (Reid) across the field. I won’t focus too much on it during the game, but hopefully we get a win and I can talk to him afterwards.”
The University of Iowa Athletics Ticket Office is accepting online bowl orders HERE. Fans may also order tickets by calling 1-800-IAHAWKS Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Priority-point order deadline is Friday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m.
Official bowl travel packages are available atiowasportstours.com. For more information visit: pinstripebowl.com.