That’s what you call a quick turnaround for the Iowa Hawkeyes. A team that looked like they were a shell of their form selves, Iowa finished the season strong to earn a bid to a respectable bowl game. Last season they were playing in the Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl, both which resulted in losses for them. Kudos to the Hawkeyes for making something out of a season that looked like a throwaway year. They ultimately finished the year with a record of 8-4 and have the honor of playing in the Outback Bowl against a good SEC opponent.
The Gators’ season played out basically the same was as last year. They had a good enough year to win their division in the SEC, which isn’t saying much, but they did get back to the SEC Championship. Alabama put Florida to bed just like they did to them in 2015. As is common with the Gators since Tim Tebow left campus, Florida will play in a mid-tier bowl game.
Michigan mopped the floor with them last year in the Citrus Bowl, and will be looking to avoid a repeat performance against another Big Ten team. Florida come into the Outback Bowl with a record of 8-4, but two losses in their final games pushed them there. They didn’t even come close, a 31-13 loss to Florida State and 54-16 against Bama. Tough way to finish up the regular season, but they can brush themselves off and start 2017 with a victory. They couldn’t have cared less to be playing Michigan last season. The Gators were unprepared and it showed on the football field. Michigan ultimately routed the hapless Gators for a final score of 41-7.
The Gators cannot afford to receive another bashing like that. Florida had no quarterback late in the season. After Luke Del Rio left late in the year with a shoulder injury, the Gators went with Austin Appleby to finish the season up. Appleby and Del Rio exchanged the starting role throughout the year, so it isn’t like this is the worst of news. Either way, if Del Rio was starting, they’d still be in trouble with a below average quarterback. I don’t see too much of a difference between them.
Appleby rounded the season out with a 2 touchdown 3 interception performance against Alabama. Interceptions for touchdowns killed them, as was the story for Washington on New Year’s Eve. The Iowa defense is not Alabama, but they are not a pushover, either. We get closer to the end of bowl season, and closer to the National Championship. Let’s find another winner to add to our list of wins.
Florida Gators vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Outback Bowl Betting Odds:
vs. Iowa +3(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Florida vs. Iowa Pick:
Iowa are feeling quite good about themselves heading into this game. On November 5th after their loss to Penn State, if you told them they’d be heading to the Outback Bowl the Hawkeyes would be happy with it. The win at home against Michigan set everything in motion. They beat the Wolverines, 14-13, which led to a couple more wins against Illinois and Nebraska. Iowa routed the Cornhuskers in the season finale for score of 40-10. The win differential was by 19.6 points over their last three games.
The defense was routinely making plays and allowed just 7.6 points per game across the final three games of the year for Iowa. It’s a spectacular effort for this team to rise up and not quite on the season. They got off on the right footing against Stanford in 2016 last season. We’ll see if they can start 2017 a little better against Florida. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard had a fine enough year for his standards, finishing with 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He had his best start of the year against Nebraska, passing for 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.
The rushing attack for Iowa is what sets up Beathard. They’ve had games where everything is in-sync and working to perfection. They out rushed Nebraska by 174 yards and Illinois by 201 yards in their last two games. Florida are allowing 142.3 yard per game on the ground. Alabama certainly skewed that number up. I expect them to play better against Iowa, who rank 67th in the nation running the ball. I like this to be a 20-14, 20-13 type of ball game. Don’t expect either team to give up much on defense. I don’t see any reason to take anything else but the UNDER.
PICK: UNDER 40.5 POINTS (-110)