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Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Can Iowa Break the Losing Streak?

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The Hawkeyes head to NYC to play in the greatest bowl game Yankee Stadium will host all year.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

This is going to surprise everyone absolutely nobody, but Iowa finished the regular season 7-5. They got there in the usual fashion: Losing a few games they should’ve won, playing a night game at Kinnick Stadium where they ruin someone’s chance at a national championship, and by pantsing Nebraska (my favorite annual Hawkeye tradition). Usually Iowa is a desirable enough participant to leapfrog someone for a slightly better bowl, but that wasn’t the case this year. Enter the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Pinstripe Bowl: At least we aren’t the Foster Farms Bowl!

The Short Version

Who: Iowa Hawkeyes (-3) vs Boston College Eagles (+3).

All Time Series: This is their first meeting! Winner gets bragging rights until the end of time.

When: December 27, 4:15 god’s time zone

Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

How to watch: ESPN

The Opponent

I, uh...didn’t realize Boston College was bowl eligible until I heard they would be playing Iowa. Turns out they also went 7-5, and were a perfectly middle of the pack ACC team this year. Freshman quarterback Anthony Brown injured his knee earlier in the season and was replaced by Darius Wade. Wade was pretty unspectacular in relief, though he was able to put a great game together against Syracuse in the last week of the season, going 16/20 for 248 yards and a touchdown.

The engine under BC’s hood, however is 240 pound running back (!!!) A.J. Dillon. Dillon has rushed for over 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. He’s somehow only a true freshman, but he runs like a grown-ass man.

On defense, BC allows nearly 200 yards per game rushing and 5 yards per attempt. Brian Ferentz’s game plan is almost certainly going to including hammering zone runs all day long. Do you like passing? I hope not.

The Hawkeyes

Iowa typically has a good showing from the fans at bowl games, but that probably won’t be the case in the Pinstripe Bowl. There are a few possible reasons for this:

  • The Pinstripe Bowl isn’t exactly a huge destination
  • Iowa fans are used to traveling someplace warm, not from one frozen hellscape to another
  • New York is more expensive to stay in than say, Arizona or Florida
  • The game is on a random Wednesday and a lot of people don’t have any vacation days left

The real storyline in this game, however, is that Iowa might break it’s bowl victory drought (KNOCKS ON ALL AVAILABLE WOOD).

Here’s the thing, Iowa hasn’t won a bowl game since (prepare bodies for a blast from the past) Ricky Stanzi beat Blaine Gabbert in the 2010 Insight Bowl. Since then they’ve lost to Oklahoma, LSU, Tennessee, Stanford and Florida, with the last 3 games being particularly painful to watch as Iowa somehow forgot to bring their football team and got blown out after being forced to take the field with their equipment managers each time [citation needed].

With all due credit to the Eagles, Boston College is the least daunting team Iowa has faced in a bowl since, well that 2010 Insight Bowl. Iowa is also the slight favorite and matches up well with BC’s ugly, trench warfare style of football. I doubt it will be a pretty game to watch, but get a win and the fans won’t really care about that. We’re sick of sad drinking after bowl games. Give us an excuse to happy drink.

There are also some big names trying to go out in style on Wednesday. Matt Vandeberg and Akrum Wadley will be playing their last games as Hawkeyes, along with all 3 linebackers (Ben Niemann, Josey Jewell and Bo Bower) and, unless the unthinkable happens, probably Josh Jackson as well. None of these guys have won a bowl game before, and it’s unthinkable that a guy as fun to watch as Akrum Wadley has been could end his career without winning one.

Bonus: If Iowa wins, Kirk Ferentz will have tied Hayden Fry’s school record of 143 wins.

So who wins?

You guys, this game is probably going to be ugly. When Boston College has the ball, expect it to be the A.J. Dillon Show. Iowa doesn’t give up very many points, but they’ve struggled to get top notch running backs off the field at times. With Joshua Jackson facing off against a backup quarterback, the Eagles aren’t going to start airing the ball out unless they have to.

When Iowa has the ball, expect pretty much the same thing. The Hawkeyes have faced much tougher run defenses than the Eagles, and they had no qualms about running the ball straight into a loaded box over and over and over and over and over and over again until Akrum Wadley randomly breaks a 75 yard touchdown. Kirk Ferentz is a stubborn old mule, and if he thinks he can get the thing done by running zone right/zone left all day then that’s what’s going to happen.

That being said, he has the opportunity to have a big game against this defense. He’s 193 yards short of tying Tavian Banks as Iowa’s 4th all-time rusher, and while that number is a lot to expect from a single game, it’s certainly within reach.

Ultimately though, I expect back and forth 3 and outs, lots of punting, and lots of bored fans. Iowa will make a few more big plays and leave New York with a nice shiny trophy.

Hawkeyes win 17-10. Take the under. This is Iowa. Always take the under.

Poll

Your 2017 New Era Pinstripe Bowl Champion is:

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Iowa Hawkeyes
    (192 votes)
  • 19%
    Boston College Eagles
    (46 votes)
238 votes total Vote Now