It’s officially Bowl season. Dozens of college football teams will battle it out over the next few weeks in order to prove themselves as the best in their respective divisions. And this year, the Iowa University Hawkeyes will play against the Florida University Gators in the Outback Bowl. The game will be played on January 2, 2017 in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
With a record of 8-4, the Hawkeyes (Big 10) are ranked number 21 on the AP poll, while the Gators (SEC), also 8-4, are ranked just above the Hawkeyes, at 20 in the AP. And although these two teams both have over 100 years of football history under their belts, this will mark only the third time that they have faced each other in the Outback Bowl. Both Hawkeyes fans and players are craving for this match-up, having lost to Florida in their last outing, ten years ago.
The Outback Bowl, originally titled The Hall of Fame Bowl, has been held since 1986, pitting the third ranked SEC team against the third ranked Big 10 team. The bowl’s name was changed after the popular restaurant chain Outback Steakhouse took over as sponsor in 1996. In the bowl’s 30 year history, Iowa has played a total number of four games, with this upcoming game counting as their fifth. Coincidentally, the first ever Outback Bowl for Iowa was against Florida.
The Hawkeyes in particular have some gripes with the Outback Bowl, specifically with the officiating during the last Iowa and Florida matchup. Several unfair calls were made against the Hawkeyes, giving the Gators the advantage, allowing them to win the game. And this isn’t some sort of conspiracy theory that bares no evidence, the coordinator of Conference USA officials even publicly admitted that mistakes were made in the Outback Bowl’s officiating.
Let’s hope that the officiating this time around is far better and that the Hawkeyes will come out victorious.