2019 Outback Bowl: News and Notes

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DATE  Tuesday, Jan. 1 | 11 a.m. CT
LOCATION  Tampa, Florida | Raymond James Stadium (65,427)
RADIO   Hawkeye Radio Network 
TICKETS // BOWL CENTRAL  hawkeyesports.com


Iowa is the home team in the 2019 Outback Bowl and will wear its black jerseys against No. 18 Mississippi State. The Hawkeyes are making their 32nd bowl game appearance, and sixth appearance at the Outback Bowl (2-3). Iowa is 15-15-1 in its previous 31 bowl games. The Hawkeyes defeated Boston College in its last bowl game, the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl in New York City. 


1: Since 2003, the Iowa Hawkeyes have played in only two stadiums outside of Iowa City more than the Outback Bowl’s Raymond James Stadium: Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium (8) and Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium (8). Tuesday will be the Hawkeyes’ sixth appearance in Raymond James Stadium. Iowa has played in six other venues six times since 2003, Northwestern’s Ryan Field, Indiana’s Memorial Stadium, Illinois’s Memorial Stadium, Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium, Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, and Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium).

2: The average temperature at kickoff for Iowa’s first five appearances in the Outback Bowl is 69.6 degrees. The high was 83 degrees in 2017 and the low was 61 in 2014. The forecast for Tuesday’s game versus Mississippi State is 80 degrees and abundant sunshine.

3: Tuesday will mark Kirk Ferentz and Iowa’s sixth appearance in the Outback Bowl. Ferentz coached against the following coaches the previous five games: Ron Zook (2004), Urban Meyer (2006), Steve Spurrier (2009), Les Miles (2014), and Jim McElwain (2017).

4: Iowa has the top two kick returners in the Big Ten. Ihmir Smith-Marsette was named Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year in the Big Ten Conference. Smith-Marsette is tops in the Big Ten and ranks No. 3 in the country, averaging 29.3 yards on 19 returns. Kyle Groeneweg leads the Big Ten and ranks 23rd nationally, averaging 10.2 yards per punt return.
5: The Hawkeyes rank first in the Big Ten in scoring defense (17.4), second in rushing defense (102.8) and total defense (289.6), and fourth in passing defense (186.8). Iowa’s total defense and rush defense rank seventh in the country. Its rushing defense ranks eighth all-time in single-season school history. Mississippi State rushed for 300 yards four times this season, most in the SEC.

6: The Outback Bowl trophy is Iowa’s fifth trophy game this season. Iowa was 3-1 in the previous four trophy games. The Hawkeyes defeated Iowa State, 13-3, to retain the Cy-Hawk trophy in Week 2, lost to No. 18 Wisconsin, 28-17, in a battle for the Heartland Trophy in Week 4, defeated Minnesota, 48-31, to retain Floyd of Rosedale in Week 5, and topped Nebraska, 31-28, to retain the Heroes Trophy.

7: T.J. Hockenson was named the top tight end in the country and in the Big Ten. He was presented the John Mackey Award, presented to the nation’s top tight end on Dec. 6, and was named Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the year in the Big Ten Conference Nov. 28. Hockenson has a team-high 717 receiving yards on a team-high 46 receptions, both career highs. Hockenson also has a career-high six receiving touchdowns. He was named first team All-Big Ten by the conference media, second team All-Big Ten by conference coaches, and received the Ozzie Newsome Award, presented by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (Ohio).

8: The Hawkeyes rank second in the Big Ten with 34 sacks, their highest single-season total since recording 34 sacks in 2003. Mississippi State has surrendered 24 sacks this season. A.J. Epensesa and DE Anthony Nelson tie for the Big Ten lead with 9.5 sacks apiece. Those numbers tie for 13th in the country. The 9.5 sacks are the highest single-season total by any Hawkeye since DL Adrian Clayborn had 11.5 sacks in 2009. Epensesa was named first team All-Big Ten by league media, and second team All-Big Ten by league coaches. Nelson was named to the media’s second team, and the coaches third team.

9: Iowa has 18 interceptions in 2018, tied for most in the country (Boston College, Maryland). Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has thrown seven interceptions in 249 pass attempts. Amani Hooker has been named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive back of the Year. He is the fourth Hawkeye to earn the defensive back award, and the third in the past four seasons.  Micah Hyde (2012), Desmond King (2015), and Josh Jackson (2017) previously earned the defensive back honor

10: Florida native Mekhi Sargent has rushed for 100-plus yards in each of his last two games. He rushed for a career-high 173 yards on a career-high 26 carries against Nebraska, and a then career-high 121 yards at Illinois. Sargent leads the team with 10 touchdowns. Missisisppi State allowed only 106 rushing yards in its last two regular season games. Sargent is from Key West High School. He is playing his first football game in his home state since 2015. 

11: QB Nate Stanley has 23 touchdown passes, third most in the Big Ten. The 23 touchdown passes are the sixth highest single-season total in school history. In 2017, Stanley threw 26 touchdown passes, one shy of tying Chuck Long (1985) for most in a single season in school history. Stanley’s 49 touchdown passes over the last two seasons tie for the most ever in school history over a two-year span. Long tossed 49 touchdown passes from 1984 (22) to 1985 (27).

12: Iowa averages 31.5 points per game, the ninth highest single-season total in school history, and its highest since averaging a school-record 37.2 points per game in 2002. Iowa averaged 42.8 points per game in five games away from Iowa City (3-2), and scored 40 points or more in all three of their road wins. Mississippi State allows 12.0 points per game, No. 1 in FBS.