The No. 17 Florida Gators are set to do battle with the Iowa Hawkeyes on Monday, January 2nd in the 2017 Outback Bowl. Kickoff inside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is set for 1:00 EST Monday afternoon with ABC providing the television coverage.
Florida (8-4) won the SEC East for a second consecutive season thanks to a 16-10 upset at LSU. But for a second consecutive year, the Gators went on to get blown out by both Florida State and then Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
Iowa (8-4) rallied to finish strong with three straight victories to close out the season, including a 14-13 upset of Michigan as 24-point home dogs. The Hawkeyes beat rival Nebraska 40-10 in their season finale as well.
According to the college football lines, Florida is a 3-point favorite over Iowa with a total set of 40.5 points with a low-scoring affair expected. Check out my bowl predictions to get my picks on every bowl game this season.
The Florida Gators are one of the most overrated teams in the country. It’s amazing they are still ranked 17th heading into the bowl season with how badly they were embarrassed when they took a step up in class late in the year. They simply took advantage of a down SEC East division, but this isn’t a good team.
That was evident with a 13-31 loss to Florida State and a 16-54 loss to Alabama in their last two games. The same thing happened to the Gators last season as they were blown out by both Florida State and Alabama, and then they went on to lose to Michigan 41-7 in the Citrus Bowl.
To the Gators’ credit, no team was hit harder by injuries this season than them. They will be a little healthier now going into their bowl game, but they are still missing a ridiculous amount of starters and will be nowhere near full strength. That’s why they should not be favored in this game.
Iowa, on the other hand, comes in underrated. The Hawkeyes underachieved this season after going 12-2 last year while making the Rose Bowl. But after their 5-4 start, they played their best football of the season down the stretch. They beat Michigan 14-13 as 24-point home dogs, shut out Illinois 28-0 as 8-point road favorites and dominated Nebraska 40-10 as 3-point home favorites. They should be getting more credit from oddsmakers with the way they finished.
Iowa closed the season by gaining 164 yards on the ground against Michigan, 262 against Illinois and 264 against Nebraska. Florida closed the season by giving up at least 219 rushing yards in five of its last seven games overall.
Both of these offenses are limited in the passing game, but Iowa can at least run the football, while Florida cannot. The Hawkeyes averaged 172 rushing yards per game and 4.5 per carry against teams that only gave up 157 yards per game and 4.1 per carry on average. The Gators only managed 130 rushing yards per game and 3.7 per carry against teams that gave up 178 yards per game and 4.6 per carry.
Iowa closed the season by gaining 164 yards on the ground against Michigan, 262 against Illinois and 264 against Nebraska. Florida closed the season by giving up at least 219 rushing yards in five of its last seven games overall. The Hawkeyes are going to be able to find plenty of success on the ground against this Florida defense, which is still missing several key players along the front seven due to injury.
I think the Hawkeyes will be very motivated for a victory here to end a four-game bowl losing streak, including the embarrassing 45-16 loss to Stanford in the Rose Bowl last year. And the Hawkeye fans travel as well as almost any team in the country to these bowl games, especially to warm destinations like Florida to get out of the cold weather they’re accustomed to in winter months. It won’t be as much of a home-field advantage for Florida as most think.
Iowa is 7-0 ATS in road games off a win over the last two seasons. Florida is 1-9 ATS in its last 10 after scoring 17 points or fewer in two straight games. The Hawkeyes are 24-9 ATS in their last 33 after allowing 125 or fewer rushing yards in three straight games coming in. Plays against any team (FLORIDA) – after allowing 37 points or more last game against opponent after two straight wins by 28 or more points are 59-24 (71.1%) ATS over the last 10 seasons.