The Iowa Hawkeyes scored 17 points off three Mississippi State turnovers in a 27-22 victory in the Outback Bowl over the 18th-ranked Bulldogs on Tuesday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium. It is Iowa’s first victory over a ranked opponent this season.
Iowa finishes the 2018 season with a bowl victory for a second straight season and it gives the Hawkeyes their first nine-win season since 2015. It is Iowa’s 15th season with nine or more wins in school history.
The Hawkeyes led 17-6 at the half before Mississippi State scored twice in a span of 18 seconds in the third quarter to take a 19-17 lead. Both touchdowns came following Iowa turnovers.
Iowa’s defense set up a go-ahead touchdown when junior Anthony Nelson tipped a Nick Fitzgerald screen pass attempt at the line of scrimmage and junior Chauncey Golston went up and got the interception, giving Iowa possession at the Mississippi State 20.
The Hawkeyes needed six plays before junior Nate Stanley connected with Outback Bowl Most Valuable Player for an 8-yard touchdown pass — his second of the game — giving the Hawkeyes a 24-19 lead.
“It just seemed like there were a lot of momentum swings in this game”, said Easley. We did a great job of staying in the game and staying focused. We were able to get the win and that is what we wanted.”
Iowa’s defense made two more stops in the closing minutes, including a game-clinching stop on a drive that started on the MSU 31 with 2:22 to play. The Bulldogs moved to the Iowa 32 over eight plays before Fitzgerald’s fourth down attempt fell incomplete to Farrod Green.
The Hawkeyes won despite being out-gained, 342-199. Mississippi State’s top-ranked defense shut down Iowa’s rushing attack, holding the Hawkeyes to -15 yards. Through the air, Stanley was 21-of-31 for 214 yards with three touchdowns.
“I can’t say enough about how our guys just hung in there and kept playing”, said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. “They played together as a team and that is critical against a team as talented as Mississippi State.”