One week from today, Iowa will take on Florida in the Outback Bowl for the third time. Iowa and the bowl in Tampa have a bit of a history, where the Hawkeyes have gone down to the Cigar City four times since 2003. This will be Florida’s fifth Outback trip as well, though their commute to the game is considerably shorter than Iowa’s.
Iowa has a 2-2 record in the bowl, and is 1-1 against Florida in those games. This year is the rubber match to end all rubber matches. Let’s take a look at Iowa’s decent history with the bowl, and rank those games, because that sounds like a fun exercise.
4. Jan. 2, 2006: Florida 31, Iowa 24
This is clearly the worst. If you know anything about this game, you know it was literally the worst-officiated game in college football history. The refereeing was so bad, Conference USA issued an apology to Iowa about its crappy officials, and the rule was changed that when two power-5 schools play in a bowl game, power-5 officials must officiate the game.
I’m not even going to go further detail into this game, because as Wikipedia sees it, the MVP was Conference USA Officials.
This game has Wikipedia graffiti! That’s how you know it’s bad.
Anyway, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can just watch this video and then cry.
3. Jan. 1, 2014: LSU 21, Iowa 14
Also known as Desmond King’s Coming Out Party, this game was actually pretty close! I was able to watch this one from the comfort of the press box, and the game was one of the earlier instances of C.J. Beathard asserting himself over Jake Rudock. Beathard went in for Rudock at the start of the fourth quarter—after Rudock posted a 9/22, 1 interception effort—but it was too little, too late.
I could have sworn Beathard had a bootleg touchdown here, but my memory isn’t doing me any favors. CJ did play markedly better, going 4/7 with a score and an interception, but one can only do so much with one quarter and a deficit to work with.
King, a true freshman in this game, was matched up with Odell Beckham Jr. the entire time. Beckham recorded just 2 catches for 35 yards. A lot of that could be chalked up to the absence of Zac Mettenberger for LSU in this game, but still. I think we all knew King was going to be something special after this one.
This bout also featured a really dumb play from John Lowdermilk. That is something I will never forget.
Watch the whole game below, if you want.
2. Jan. 1, 2009: Iowa 31, South Carolina 10
It was a tough choice between Iowa’s two Outback wins, but this came in second for reasons I’ll get in to later.
This was the last time we saw Shonn Greene in a Hawkeye uniform, but one could make the argument that this game set the table for Iowa and its historic run the following year.
This was just about over at half, where Iowa went in to the locker room with a 21-0 lead. The Hawkeyes then poured it on, making it 31-0 in the third quarter. Stephen Garcia threw 3 interceptions for the Gamecocks, while Ricky Stanzi had two of his own in the first half.
Greene had 121 yards and three scores, which some say sealed the deal for his decision to forgo another year in Iowa City.
This was thorough domination. Watch the highlights below!
1. Jan. 1, 2004: Iowa 37, Florida 17
I chose this game as No. 1 because it was a coming out party of sorts for Kirk Ferentz, as it was the first January bowl win for the Hawkeyes in 45 years. It was the first time Iowa had consecutive 10-win seasons and it was a whooping at the expense of a ranked Florida team, what could be better?
Fred Russell amassed 150 yards and a score while Nathan Chandler threw one and ran one himself. Nate Kaeding kicked three field goals, and that’s all she wrote. This game also set the table for Iowa’s run of dominance against Ron Zook, so there’s another fun wrinkle to add in there.
These highlights were a joy to watch.
Stay tuned with The Pants for more Outback Bowl coverage as the game nears.