Iowa football: Breaking down the Hawkeyes' Outback Bowl history

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

This January's Outback Bowl will be Iowa's sixth as a program, tied for the most of any bowl game in which the Hawkeyes have played.

Here's a bit about the previous five trips to Tampa, Florida:

Jan. 2, 2017 — No. 17 Florida 30, Iowa 3

The season: A preseason top-20 team fell on its face early with a stunning home loss to North Dakota State in Week 3. Three defeats in the next six games had Iowa sitting at 5-4, before it ripped off three straight wins to end the year. The headliner was a 14-13 walk-off over undefeated Michigan. A Nebraska drubbing to end the year propelled the Hawkeyes into yet another Outback Bowl against Florida.

The game: Desperately looking to end their bowl victories drought, the Hawkeyes again couldn’t keep up with SEC speed. Iowa had zero offensive stability, and the Gators put things away emphatically with a 13-point fourth quarter. Ed Cunningham’s criticism of how Iowa handled injured quarterback C.J Beathard became an interesting side story.

Words in print: "Beathard finished 7 of 23 for 55 yards in his Hawkeye swan song. A group of 14 Iowa seniors left without recording a bowl-game victory. “This is what we put all this work for throughout the season, to end the season up strong. To lose a bowl game four times in a row, it’s not fun, to say the least,' Hawkeyes senior defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson said." — Mark Emmert   

Jan. 1, 2014 — No. 14 LSU 21, Iowa 14

The season: After suffering a Week 1 loss to Northern Illinois, Iowa bounced back with eight regular-season wins. A convincing final-week win over Nebraska landed Iowa back in Tampa against an LSU team that was in the top 10 for much of the year.  

The game: The Tigers dominated despite the modest seven-point win. LSU held Iowa to 15 rushing yards on 16 first-half carries, outgaining the Hawkeyes 220-76 on the ground. Tigers running back Jeremy Hill racked up 216 yards and two touchdowns.

Words in print: "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

Jan. 1, 2009 — Iowa 31, South Carolina 10

The season: After snapping a six-year bowl streak the previous season, Iowa faced South Carolina in its third Outback Bowl in five years. The Hawkeyes dropped three straight to  start Big Ten play. But Iowa salvaged its season by winning four of their last five, including a 24-23 thriller against then-No. 3 Penn State. It finished the regular season 8-4.

The game: Iowa rolled right over Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks, racing out to a 31-0 lead before South Carolina threw up some garbage points. 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 afterward.

Words in print: "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. 2, 2006 — No. 18 Florida 31, No. 25 Iowa 24

    The season: Iowa’s 2005 season began with plenty of hype. The Hawkeyes were ranked 11th in the preseason and had thoughts of a Big Ten title. A Week 2 loss to Iowa State simmered the buzz. A Week 4 loss to Ohio State kept Iowa unranked until it jumped back to No. 25 after wins against Wisconsin and Minnesota to close the year. The Hawkeyes finished 7-4 and drew Florida for the second time in three seasons.

    The game: Iowa fans won’t forget this sting. After the Hawkeyes fought back despite an early 17-0 hole, the refs took center stage. Two personal foul calls on the Hawkeyes near the end of the first half were questionable. And the Conference USA refs called Iowa offside on its successful onside kick with 1:24 left, down 31-24. Conference USA later admitted the error

    Words in print: "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, 2004 — No. 12 Iowa 37, No. 15 Florida 17

    The season: The Hawkeyes began the year with four straight wins and reached No. 9 before falling to Michigan State and Ohio State. Iowa rebounded to win four of its last five, punctuated by a 20-point comeback in the final week against Wisconsin.

    The game: Aside from a quick 70-yard touchdown pass from Chris Leak to Kelvin Kight, this was all Iowa. The Hawkeyes countered Florida’s early punch with 27 straight points to grab control. Running back Fred Russell ran for 150 yards and a score on 21 carries, afterward declaring for the NFL draft.

    Words in print: "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

    Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.