Pregame musings: Outback Bowl time

Pregame+musings%3A+Outback+Bowl+time

TAMPA, Fla. — It’s a nice day to play some football.

Anytime football is on, honestly, is a nice time to play football, but today — today is especially good. There should be a pretty fun game on tap as Iowa tries to end its season on a four-game winning streak and get to nine wins. Florida, meanwhile, is trying to avoid a second-straight loss to a Big Ten school in a bowl game.

Raymond James Stadium is beautiful, by the way, and kudos to the Outback Bowl staff. The Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers played a football game Jan. 1, and the field really doesn’t show it. It sounds as if they put in a bunch of new sod after the game, which is nothing short of impressive.

There’s no small amount of work that goes into reworking the stadium and just think — the National Championship will be played here in just a couple days (Jan. 9). Big days for the Raymond James Stadium staff.

So, back to the game. As has been said before, the game is going to come down to two solid defenses and whether the offenses can find some semblance of rhythm. On the bus here, another member of the media remarked to me that it’ll be clear by the end of the first quarter how this game is going to go. I don’t think he’s wrong.

Is Florida the more athletic team? Maybe. That’s perhaps my biggest and largest burning question. The Hawkeyes have handled themselves well against some athletic teams this season (hello, Michigan) by “uglying” up the game and winning both field position and the turnover battle.

They’ll need to do that again today. Luckily for the Hawkeyes, the Gators have been more the willing to make things ugly this season. Perhaps they’ll oblige.

Game prediction:

As I just said, I think the game will be ugly, though that doesn’t mean it’s going to be low scoring. Throughout the month leading up to this game, observers have assumed the game was going to be low scoring; in fact, the over/under is 41. I’d take the over, but I’m also not the person to be taking gambling advice from.

I think the Hawkeyes can score in this game, I really do. The Gators are down some linebackers, and it wouldn’t shock me if Hawkeye running backs LeShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley manage to rip off a couple nice runs. If Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard can hit tight end George Kittle or the other tight ends a couple times, it’s going to go a long ways.

One last thing — can Iowa hit a couple plays downfield? That’s a real good question. Florida’s secondary is solid, and its corners are among the best in the nation. If the Hawkeyes can even squeeze a few plays out, that would go a long, long ways.

For whatever reason, I believe in Iowa for this game. That may come back to bite me.

Iowa 27, Florida 20

Player to watch: Ben Niemann

Facebook Comments