Phil Harrison

Harrison: Same Old Iowa In The Outback Bowl

Same Old Iowa In The Outback Bowl


With three straight wins to end its Big Ten regular season including a win over an undefeated Michigan, Iowa looked to be on a roll heading to the Outback Bowl? In the end, Bloomin’ Onions aren’t the only things that got peeled back in Tampa. Iowa is still Iowa.


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Outback Bowl: Florida 30, Iowa 3, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?

Death, taxes and Iowa having several personalities in a season. Those are all certainties in life now aren’t they?

Perhaps no team can frustrate its fan base more by looking spectacular at times, and like a Pinto stuck in neutral at others. You can put the 2017 version of the Outback Bowl into that latter category.

Grind, grind goes the clutch.

Failed expectations

It wasn’t long ago that we all believed Iowa to be the class of the Big Ten’ West division. It had a slew of the pieces back from a memorable 2015, and the schedule — though anything from a cake walk — was not a mine field like other Big Ten contenders.

But a funny thing happened while tip-toeing through the garden of mines. One week after looking fantastic against their arch-rival Iowa State Cyclones, the whole thing blew-up.

You know the story. Iowa lost to FCS opponent North Dakota State, and went on to lose four of seven in the Big Ten before hosting Michigan.

The offense couldn’t get out of its own way, and the defense stopped opponents the majority of the time, only to give up far too many big plays to doom chances in the winning column.

Marked improvement

And then, unexplainably, something appeared to click against Michigan.

We saw the defense find its 2015 self, while the offensive line began to get better in pass protection and begin opening holes for Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels.

Iowa upset No. 2 Michigan and it seemed to spring-board the Hawkeyes into a strong finishing kick with a three-game winning streak to end the season.

So it looked like the match up in the Outback Bowl would be a good one with a offensively challenged Gator team.

Hardly.

We’ve all been fooled again haven’t we?

The Iowa way

Iowa is still Iowa. At this point, you know what you’re going to get. The Hawkeyes will give you a feeling of adulation by winning some games they have no business being in. But they will make you want to kick the dog and retreat to bed with some of the clunkers that weave their way into a season.

The bowl games may not go so well either.

In Tampa, it started out fine enough with the defense making stops, but it only went so far. The offense couldn’t get up its end of the bargain with a bushel of turnovers, and in the end, it was Florida that controlled the game by getting good field position via turnovers, and big plays to break the game open.

The result was an ugly 30-3 loss.

Ho-hum. Let the chants of SEC! SEC! begin in earnest.

Somewhere, somehow it’ll be time to tee-up what this season all means for Iowa’s chances next year. When it’s time to figure that all out, we’ll write plenty and give it a go. The reality though is that your guess is as good as mine with this Iowa team.

The more things change, the more you wish they’d change — at least in Iowa City.