After a two year absence the Iowa football team is headed back to New Year’s Day. The Hawkeyes accepted an invitation to play South Carolina in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on January first.
This will be the third time a Kirk Ferentz coached Iowa team has played in the Outback. The Hawks beat Florida 37-17 in the 2004 game and lost to the Gators 31-24 two years later.
Ferentz says it’sa tremendous bowl and the hospitality is first class and they’ve heard nothing but positive things from the fans, so they are “thrilled and honored’ to be invited. The Hawkeyes finished the regular season with an 8-4 mark and will play in a January bowl for the fifth time in the past seven years.
Ferentz says the credit goes to the players for working hard and staying positive and he says it’s nice to seem them rewarded. A January bowl was the furthest thing from everybody’s mind when the Hawkeyes stood 3-3 after dropping their first two Big Ten games. They closed out the season by winning five of their last six.
Ferentz says in retrospect it makes the accomplishment that much sweeter, as he says the team refused to get down on themselves and stayed the course and did the work to become successful.
Ferentz says returning to the post season is even more meaningful after the Hawkeyes finished 6-6 and missed out on a bowl game in 2007.He says the lesson is you can’t take anything for granted, and he says it’s like a player missing a year and coming back.
Junior All-American running back Shonn Greene says he is excited by the chance to play in the Outback. Greene says it’s a good bowl with a good atmosphere and he’s very excited about going. South Carolina finished the regular season 7-5 and is led by former Florida coach Steve Spurrier.