Iowa has accepted an invitation to the Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida to play Tennessee on January second. It will mark the first time the Hawkeyes have played in what was known as the Gator Bowl since a 14-6 loss to Florida in 1983.
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta says he spent the past couple of weeks talking with officials from the game and the discussion became consistent about two weeks ago.
Barta says Jacksonville was among the top two choices and he felt confident if the other bowls followed what they had been saying that Iowa would go to this bowl.
In his 16th year as head coach Kirk Ferentz is leading the Hawkeyes to a bowl game for the 12th time. “We didn’t go to a bowl two years ago and we didn’t go to a bowl in ’07, we were 6-6. So, people who take things for granted, which happens all the time in life, to me are missing the boat. We are very appreciative, we would have been appreciative to go to any bowl this year,” Ferentz says.
Tennessee is 6-6 and tied for fourth in the SEC East division with South Carolina. Ferentz says the Vols are a “team on the rise” under their new coach and he says they are excited to play them.
This will be the sixth time under Ferentz the Hawks have played an SEC foe in a bowl game. They are 3-2 after last year’s 21-14 loss to LSU in the Outback Bowl. “You’re playing an SEC opponent, I know they’ve got good talent, I know they’ve got great tradition and they have a great fan following as well. To me it ought to be a great-great matchup,” Ferentz says.
The Hawkeyes are 7-5 after closing the regular season with home losses to Wisconsin and Nebraska. Senior offensive lineman Brandon Scherff says they are determined as it will be the last game for seniors to play in a Hawkeye uniform. Linebacker Quinton Alston says they are thrilled with the opportunity to play one more game.
This will be the Vols first bowl game since 2010. Tennessee coach Butch Jones who says he is familiar with the Iowa program. “Iowa has been a program that I have followed for a number of years, really, really respect the job coach has done. He’s been very, very consistent and they are one of the programs that we kind of model our football program after here at Tennessee in terms of toughness and a mentality that they have in their football program,” Jones says.
Iowa beat Tennessee 28-22 in the 1982 Peach Bowl and lost to the Volunteers 23-22 in the 1987 Kickoff Classic.