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KEYS TO THE GAME IN REVIEW: THE OUTBACK BOWL

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SPOILER ALERT: Iowa didn’t check many boxes here

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Florida vs Iowa Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

That one hurt.

Not a lot went right for the Hawkeyes in Monday’s Outback Bowl, to say the least, en route to a 30-3 loss at the hands of the Florida Gators. If you think you can stomach 500 more words on the topic ... read on, brave soul.

Stay on schedule

Iowa actually started out this game with moderate success on the ground, but the total inability to present some semblance of an air attack doomed the offense yet again. Overall, the Hawkeyes had five three-and-outs, three turnovers, and a mere 226 total yards, of which only 55 came through the air.

Quite simply: that won’t get the job done.

Once again, Akrum Wadley was pretty much the lone bright spot for an anemic Hawkeye offense. Wadley finished with 136 all-purpose yards on 26 touches and was easily Iowa’s leading receiver, which should tell you all you need to know about the Hawkeye receivers’ ability to get open against a lockdown Florida secondary.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Florida vs Iowa Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Force Appleby to make mistakes

Hey! Iowa actually did this!

In fact, those first defensive possessions where the Hawks benefitted from two tip-drill interceptions ended up being the pinnacle of the game for Iowa. I’m glad Desmond King got a pick in his final game—it’s fitting.

So yeah, the Hawkeyes got a couple of early takeaways, but only managed to turn the Gators’ miscues into 3 points. That, plus a second quarter collapse at the goal line and a missed chip shot field goal in the third, cost the Hawks dearly and seemed to break their resolve.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Florida vs Iowa Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Win the field position battle

This one went Florida’s way, but largely due to Iowa’s offensive ineptitude than any overt special teams dominance on the part of the Gators. Desmond King even rattled off a couple of sizable returns, however the Hawkeyes’ average drive start was still their own 29. The Gators, on the other hand, started their drives at an average of their own 41. In a game featuring lackluster offenses, that difference is crucial.

Prediction

It probably won’t be pretty, but I see the Hawkeyes grinding out a close win and capping off an improbable run down the stretch of this season. Plus I’m still pissed about 2006. 17-13 Hawkeyes

Swing and a miss, BHGP guy.

I’m disappointed that Iowa wasn’t able to keep this game interesting into the latter part of the fourth quarter, at least. While the game was probably harder fought than the score would have you believe, a fifth straight bowl loss (and a third straight national de-pantsing) is a bitter pill to swallow.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Florida vs Iowa Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Extra Points

A major factor in why Iowa succumbed in this year’s Outback Bowl was its failure to execute in areas that it normally does. For example:

Iowa entered the game in the top-10 nationally in red zone offense, but only converted one of its three attempts against Florida.

The Hawkeyes also rarely turned the ball over in the first 12 games. In fact, the three giveaways in the Outback Bowl account for 25% of Iowa’s total turnovers on the season.

At the end of the day, Florida deserves a lot of credit for taking the Hawks out of their comfort zone and essentially beating them at their own game. And with that … let’s go keep warm with some basketball.