Florida vs. Iowa prediction and Outback Bowl preview. The Big Ten and SEC clash when the Gators face the Hawkeyes in Tampa.
Florida vs. Iowa Outback Bowl Preview
When: Monday, Jan. 2 – 11 am. ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
TV Broadcast: ABC
Florida won possibly the worst division in any major conference and got a trip the the SEC title game, but it is back into its Outback Bowl matchup with Iowa. The Gators lost to rival Florida State, 31-13, in their regular-season finale before No. 1 Alabama routed them, 54-16, in the conference championship game. Can they bounce back against the Hawkeyes?
Iowa didn’t finish in the top 25 of the College Football Playoff rankings despite an identical 8-4 record as Florida, which finished No. 17. But the Hawkeyes have won three in a row, including a 40-10 thumping of Nebraska to cap the regular season.
What To Know About Florida
The quarterback situation is still a mess, and that is even if Luke Del Rio is able to return from injury for the bowl game. Austin Appleby started the SEC Championship game with a bang on the first drive, but then threw three killer interceptions. The Gators must have Jordan Scarlett and others step up at the running back position to move the ball, as the aerial attack is nowhere to be seen.
The Gators’ defense has continually been put in bad situations all season long by its offense, but the unit has stayed strong. Trying to throw on the secondary combination of Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson can be dangerous. The Gators are 3rd in the country in passing defense, allow just 156.3 yards per game through the air.
What To Know About Iowa
Defending much through the air likely won’t be an issue for Florida, though. C.J. Beathard threw all but eight of Iowa’s 286 pass attempts, which were the fewest in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes will be running the ball often with LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley, who combined for nearly 2,000 yards while rushing for 10 touchdowns apiece. Iowa isn’t exactly explosive, ranking ninth in the conference in yards per play.
The Hawkeyes have been great defensively during their winning streak, though. It began with a 14-13 upset win over Michigan before Iowa shut out Illinois and held Nebraska to 217 total yards. Reigning Thrope Award winning Desmond King is a dangerous matchup in the secondary.
Offense: Even – If you’re hoping for a shootout, you best look elsewhere. Florida finished 115th in the FBS in total offense per game, while Iowa finished 120th.
Defense: Florida – Two of the nation’s top 25 units will make this low-scoring, but the Gators get the nod after finishing sixth in the FBS in total defense.
Special Teams: Even – King and Antonio Callaway are going to make every punt in this game exciting with their return abilities.
Coaching: Iowa – Kirk Ferentz got the Hawkeyes back on track after a rough start and has more experience in bowl games than McElwain.
Intangibles: Even – Florida and Iowa have split two previous Outback Bowl meetings.
Matchup To Watch
Daniels and Wadley vs. Florida’s run defense
The Gators were great against the pass, but they’ve been prone to giving up some yards on the ground. If Daniels and Wadley can bust loose for a couple long runs early, Iowa could score enough points to put Florida’s inconsistent offense to the test.
Spread: No line as of post
Over/Under: No line as of post
Florida vs. Iowa Prediction
This game might be pretty boring if you’re an offensive enthusiast, but if you’re of a defensive mind, stick around. Florida will be able to shut down Iowa’s running back duo and get two Callaway touchdown catches to win it.
Florida vs. Iowa Final Score Prediction: Florida 17, Iowa 13
Campus Insiders Staff Picks
Brian Stultz: Florida
Jeff Bartl: Florida
Rich Cirminiello: Florida
Robert Judin: Florida
Jordan Cornette: Florida