Photo via Charlie Neibergall, AP Photo
Who: #17 University of Florida vs Iowa
When: January 2, 1PM EST
Where: Tampa, FL
The Outback Bowl isn’t exactly what both teams imagined before this season, but you can be sure that the Hawkeyes and the Gators will make the most of the placement. They get one last chance to prove their worth to rest of the country.
UF won the SEC east with an 8-4 record, but ended its season with a bitter taste in its mouth with losses to both FSU and Alabama. Florida will be looking to put themselves in a great place to be a serious contender for the SEC title game against Alabama (most likely) next year.
Iowa had an amazing win against a then second-ranked Michigan late in the season, and shouldn’t be overlooked despite being unranked. The Hawkeyes are also on a three-game winning streak, which should provide a spark of momentum.
I think the key to this game is which offense can get off the ground and perform. The Hawkeyes are ranked #120 in total offense, and the Gators are ranked #115. Whichever offense can actually play well will win.
Iowa’s QB C.J. Beathard has 40 touchdowns in his career, and is proven to be a solid option, but will be the key to Iowa’s success. UF’s quarterback has a problem both throwing touchdowns and avoiding interceptions, and this will prove to be detrimental to the Gators.
UF has a great defense which gives up just 298.6 yards per game. Unfortunately, the Gators will be missing linebackers Jarrad Davis and David Reese due to injury.
At the end of the day, I don’t think the Gators have the strength to come up with the W, and the Hawkeyes will win in a defensive struggle.