Hawks look to end bowl hex
By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer
Iowa has gone bust in bowl games.
The Hawkeyes have become the worst program in football this decade when it comes to winning bowl games. Coach Kirk Ferentz has lost the late-season mojo of his early years and Iowa has struck out in bowl season since 2010. The Hawkeyes have lost five straight bowl games, including the Rose Bowl two years ago, and the seniors could close their careers without a signature bowl victory.
“Just trying to get the program back on track with winning a bowl would be awesome,” lineman Nathan Bazata said.
It’s time for Iowa to take its cuts again: Take them out to the bowl game! The Hawkeyes (7-5) and Boston College Eagles (7-5) are on deck in the Pinstripe Bowl on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
The Hawkeyes haven’t just lost bowl games — they’ve never been a threat during the winless streak. They’ve trailed at one point 21-0 to Oklahoma (2011 Insight Bowl), 14-0 to LSU (2014 Outback Bowl), 28-0 to Tennessee (2015 TaxSlayer Bowl) and 38-0 to Stanford (2016 Rose Bowl). Last year, the Hawkeyes were thumped 30-3 by Florida.
Iowa is the only team in the nation to lose a bowl game in each of the last four seasons.
“I’d like to send all our seniors out with a win,” Ferentz said.
Good luck with that.
Win or lose, who will watch in New York? The recent string of bowl defeats and a lackluster season — highlighted by a 55-24 win over Ohio State on Nov. 24 that knocked the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff — will likely lead to a thin crowd of Iowa fans at Yankee Stadium.
That could lead to a New York stadium overrun by cheering Boston fans.
“Our fan base, from what I understand from the Yankees, has really come through, selling our boxes and selling our tickets,” BC coach Steve Addazio said. “The playoff games and the top bowl games will be sold out. So when you get to the next rung of games and they have that kind of energy to them, I think it makes it all that much better. So my anticipation in New York will be we’ll have a great following from Boston College who will be there and be excited, and it will energize our team.”
With temps expected in the 20s, any supposed home-field edge may not matter. And that’s good news for the Hawkeyes, who are 2¢-point favorites.
This is not the Rose Bowl and the Eagles are certainly not 2016 Stanford. If you love seven-win programs mired in mediocrity, then pull on a Boston College cap.
Under Addazio, the Eagles have had four seven-win seasons in his five years at BC. He lost the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl to Penn State but could get the program to eight wins for the first time since 2009. He’s also the first coach to ever lead the Eagles to four bowl games in five years.
Here are some other things to know about the Pinstripe Bowl:
TIE FRY: Ferentz is one victory away from matching former coach Hayden Fry atop Iowa’s career wins list with 142.
“I’d be really happy to tie him because that means we’re going to win this game,” Ferentz said.
Fry hired Ferentz as his offensive line coach in 1981. Ferentz was named head coach in 1999 following Fry’s retirement and has won at least 10 games five times and finished in the AP top 10 five times. He is the longest-tenured coach in FBS football.
STAY OR GO: Iowa junior cornerback Josh Jackson said he is 50-50 on whether he will come back for his senior season.
Jackson’s numbers, along with his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame and his abundance of physical gifts, have left many NFL draft pundits pegging him as a possible first-round pick in 2018.
“I’ve thought both ways, both perspectives,” said Jackson, who redshirted his first season and is set to graduate in May.
SITTING OUT: Iowa will play without starting offensive tackle Alaric Jackson (violation of team rules) and starting strong safety Miles Taylor (injured).
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Iowa: RB Akrum Wadley ran for nine touchdowns and 1,021 yards and became only the fourth Hawkeye to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
Boston College: RB AJ Dillon was named the ACC rookie of the year and had 1,432 yards rushing and 13 TDs.
NICE TO MEET YOU: The Hawkeyes and Eagles have never played each other.