TAMPA, Fla. — The season finale could not have ended worse for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
A 30-3 stomping by Florida (9-4) in the Outback Bowl gave Iowa its fifth straight bowl loss. It was the third straight bowl beatdown. And it highlighted significant deficiencies in team speed on both sides of the ball.
Iowa (8-5) had its chances, but failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. It also struggled to get off the field on defense in critical situations. It was a complete team loss, one the Hawkeyes have to eat yet again.
Here are grades for Iowa following its win, on a scale from zero stars to five:
Offense (1 star)
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley finished his season in style, rushing for 115 yards and joining LeShun Daniels as the only tandem in school history to notch 1,000 rushing yards apiece in one season. That was the only highlight for an offense that barely reached 200 yards, passed for only 55 and was stranded at the 1-yard line. In a season with uneven performances, this was the lowest of the low.
Defense (2 stars)
The final score doesn’t quite indicate the overall defensive effort. Iowa had three sacks, two interceptions and held the Gators to 109 yards rushing. But the Hawkeyes gave up a couple of big plays, including an 85-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter that really changed the game’s complexion. Iowa’s offensive turnovers shifted a competitive game into a nightmare. Plus, cornerback Desmond King picked off a pass to tie Damien Robinson for fourth place on Iowa’s all-time list with 14.
Special teams (2 stars)
King finished his day with two punt returns for 70 yards. Iowa will struggle to replace him in every facet of play next year. Kicker Keith Duncan missed a 30-yard field goal that took the wind out of Iowa on a long, strong third-quarter drive when the game was still competitive. Ron Coluzzi shanked one punt, but he netted 39.3 yards per boot in an above-average day.
Coaching (1 star)
Iowa knew what it faced in Florida’s defense, yet its game plan never normalized. Iowa’s offense was effective running the ball between the 20-yard lines but when it needed a big play, it didn’t come up with it by design. Likewise, Iowa prides itself in a bend-but-don’t-break defense, yet it broke multiple times in critical situations. The fundamentals that Iowa preaches didn’t translate to the football field against the Gators.
Overall (0 stars)
What a thud of an ending. There was significant positivity after the Hawkeyes won three straight games to end the season. Yet, to make every completion look like an accident just shows how far Iowa needs to go on offense both in talent and scheme. Florida’s offense was nothing special, yet Iowa gave up big plays that made it look impressive. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, this performance will linger in fans’ minds longer than the wins against Michigan and Nebraska. Five straight bowl losses, including three by a combined score of 120-47, tend to highlight the season in negative fashion.