Finally, Iowa's dumbfounding bowl losing streak is over
Iowa fullback Drake Kulick said earlier in the week that his team wanted to avoid an embarrassing feat.
You know, not be the senior class that lost 5 straight bowl games.
That was the situation the Hawkeyes were in heading into the Pinstripe Bowl against Boston College on Wednesday night. Lose and be known as the class that failed to win a postseason game. That was something that last year’s seniors couldn’t avoid in an Outback Bowl blowout against Florida.
But the Hawkeyes were a long way from Tampa on Wednesday night. They were in their element. Of course Iowa’s bowl losing streak was going to end playing with an 11-degree wind chill. This is Iowa, not USC. This is run it up the gut, not sling it 50 times. It had to be that way.
How fitting it was that Kulick was the one who pounded in the game-winning touchdown, playing in his final collegiate game. His score gave Iowa the bowl victory that it lacked for the last seven years.
The drought is over. But despite the perfect elements for the Hawkeyes to do that, it was only because they finally made the right adjustment.
It seems so simple. Look at the film and decide what adjustments need to be made. Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz reminded us just how easy that looks sometimes. It was the first-year offensive coordinator who, after insisting on attacking Boston College with stretch run after stretch run, decided to shake things up.
Sure, Akrum Wadley is known for his shiftiness. But playing on what was basically the rink at Rockefeller Center, Wadley’s shiftiness wasn’t best served by stretching the Boston College defense horizontally. So Ferentz made the necessary adjustment.
With Boston College decimated with injuries in the middle of its defense, Iowa finally did the obvious thing — run the ball up the middle. Crazy, right?
Believe it or not, the ever-versatile Wadley made the adjustment just fine. He finished the game with 283 of Iowa’s 372 all-purpose yards, 88 of which came on the ground. The New Jersey native was certainly in his element playing just 20 miles from where he grew up.
Guess who earned Pinstripe Bowl MVP honors? This guy.
— Cody Hills (@chillsvds) December 27, 2017
Wadley was the main part of Iowa’s second-half resurgence, though 56 total first-half yards didn’t exactly set the bar very high for that to happen.
And credit is also due to the Iowa defense, which didn’t allow a touchdown in the second half. That was after a first half in which Iowa’s defense looked like it would rather be sitting poolside in Tampa even if it meant another blowout bowl loss. The Hawkeyes didn’t let A.J. Dillion take over, which basically meant that Boston College had no other offense.
Obviously the Golden Eagles — especially with how banged up they were — are not anywhere near as talented as Florida, LSU, Stanford or any of Iowa’s past bowl losses. Iowa didn’t have to contain Christian McCaffrey or Odell Beckham, Jr.
Iowa simply had to adjust. Everyone was willing to do it. Shoot, even Iowa kicker Miguel Recinos started doing one-step field goals to account for the slippery conditions.
Credit Iowa for finally be willing to make the right adjustments. Many (myself included) thought that Iowa made the right adjustment last year when it spent half the time it usual does at its bowl destination. The thinking was obvious. Maybe getting out of the Iowa winter and spending a week on the peach softened up Iowa’s rough-and-tough nature. Shorten that time, increase the win probability (that didn’t work out).
Whatever it was, Iowa was not a soft team in the Big Apple on Wednesday night. That game was decided in the trenches, just how the Hawkeyes like it. Finally, Iowa didn’t look completely overmatched in its final game of the season.
It’s amazing that it took seven years for that to happen. Maybe “amazing” isn’t the right word. What about “baffling?”
No longer will Iowa’s bowl losing streak remain one of the odder stats in college football. No longer will any of those aforementioned words be used as a punchline for Iowa football doubters.
An embarrassing feat was avoided, just how Kulick and the Hawkeyes drew it up.