The Hawkeyes will battle the Gators on Jan. 2. Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register
Jan. 1, 2004 — No. 12 Iowa 37, No. 15 Florida 17
Background: The Hawkeyes won four straight to start the year and surge up to No. 9 in the country before losing to Michigan State and Ohio State. They bounced back with four wins in their last five games, including a 20-point comeback in the final week against Wisconsin, to earn a spot opposite Florida in Tampa, Fla.
What happened: The Gators actually got on top first in this one. Chris Leak bombed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Kight for an early 7-0 lead. But Iowa responded with 27 unanswered points and seized control. Running back Fred Russell led the way with 150 yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts. He declared for the NFL Draft after the game.
Newspaper clipping: "Robert Gallery and Ramon Ochoa started eyeing the Gatorade buckets with 5 minutes left in the Outback Bowl Thursday afternoon. They had mischief on their minds even before the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes ran off the field as 37-17 winners over No. 17 Florida. Unable to soak coach Kirk Ferentz with the happy bath of champions last January — Iowa lost to Southern California in the Orange Bowl — this was the time. And they weren't going to mess it up." — Randy Peterson
Jan. 2, 2006 — No. 18 Florida 31, No. 25 Iowa 24
Background: Iowa’s 2005-06 campaign sounds a bit like this year’s. It was the preseason No. 11 team. Many people thought it’d at least contend for a Big Ten title, perhaps a national one. A Week 2 loss to Iowa State derailed those plans. A Week 4 loss to Ohio State kept Iowa out of the polls until it jumped back to No. 25 after wins against Wisconsin and Minnesota to close the year. They finished 7-4 and drew Florida in Tampa for the second time in three seasons.
What happened: There’s a YouTube video of highlights from this game. It’s called “Worst Officiating in College Football History.” Give the Gators credit. They jumped to an early 17-0 lead on Vernell Brown’s 41-yard interception return, and they held off Iowa’s comeback attempt. But the officiating was … questionable. Two personal foul calls on the Hawkeyes near the end of the first half were shoddy. And the Conference USA refs called Iowa offside on its successful onside kick with 1:24 left, down 31-24. Conference USA later admitted Iowa was, indeed, not offsides.
Newspaper clipping: "The refs choked. When the curtains were raised and the spotlights were flipped on, these jokers didn’t just freeze up and forget their lines. They went flying into the orchestra pit. If the 2006 Outback Bowl were an episode of 'American Idol,' Simon Cowell would have sent replay official Paul Schmitt home in tears.'" — Sean Keeler
Jan. 1, 2009 — Iowa 31, South Carolina 10
Background: After snapping a six-year bowl streak the previous season, Iowa earned a spot opposite the Gamecocks in its third Outback Bowl in six years. The Hawkeyes dropped three straight top open Big Ten play. But they salvaged their season by winning four of their last five, including a 24-23 thriller against then-No. 3 Penn State. They finished the regular season 8-4 and Kirk Ferentz emphatically saved his job.
What happened: Iowa throttled South Carolina 31-0 through three quarters before Steve Spurrier’s bunch scored 10 in fourth-quarter garbage time. Running back Shonn Greene rushed for 121 yards — his 13th time above 100 yards that season — and three touchdowns. He declared for the NFL Draft after the game.
Newspaper clipping: "This is when you whip out the lifetime contract and the pen. What you can’t give to Kirk Ferentz in terms of salary, you make up for in length. You need to give him something the NFL can’t: Years. Security. Stability. Sanity." — Sean Keeler
Jan. 1, 2014 — No. 14 LSU 21, Iowa 14
Background: A Week 1 loss to Northern Illinois hurt, sure. But by the end of the regular season, Iowa was 8-4 with a great final-week win at Nebraska — one short year after a disastrous 4-8 campaign. That convincing 38-17 win over the Cornhuskers got Iowa an invite to Tampa to challenge 9-3 LSU, a team that had spent much of the year in the top 10.
What happened: The score is a little misleading, as the Tigers really dominated this game. They held Iowa to 15 rushing yards on 16 first-half carries. Overall, they out-gained Iowa 220-76 on the ground and possessed the ball nearly 12 minutes longer than Iowa. LSU running back Jeremy Hill racked up 216 yards and two touchdowns. That was his final college game before getting drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. LSU held Kevonte Martin-Manley to one catch — a 4-yard score with 1:42 left.
Newspaper clipping: "If you can't convert third-and-inches, your options really start to dwindle. That was the biggest takeaway from Wednesday's Outback Bowl, as 14th-ranked Louisiana State bullied its way to a 21-14 win over Iowa. Remember all the talk about LSU's freshman quarterback? Well, Anthony Jennings became a footnote when the Tigers' Jeremy Hill ran for 216 yards and two touchdowns. 'How many did he have?' Hawkeye defensive tackle Carl Davis asked. ‘I don't know of any back who ran for that much this year.'" — Andrew Logue
Bain covers the Hawkeyes, preps and recruiting for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.