Iowa defeated Boston College 27-20 on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium in the Pinstripe Bowl to close out its season in style. The Hawkeyes used some late-game heroics to earn the win, and cornerback Josh Jackson sealed it with his 8th interception in the wanting minutes.
What it means
Iowa’s season featured its share of peaks and valleys. The Hawkeyes opened 3-0 and nearly pulled off a stirring upset at Kinnick Stadium against Penn State. But too much inconsistency plagued Iowa and prevented the Hawkeyes from producing a truly special season. Iowa showed it was capable of beating Ohio State 55-24 and losing 24-15 to Purdue in the span of two weeks. But on Wednesday, Iowa went out on a high note by demonstrating the moxie necessary to beat a talented Boston College team. If there’s such a thing as momentum heading into the offseason, Iowa’s victory in the Pinstripe Bowl ought to carry some weight moving forward.
3 things we learned
1. Kirk Ferentz stands alongside Hayden Fry: With the victory, Ferentz tied Fry atop the program’s all-time victories list with 143. Ferentz has generated his share of criticism from a vocal minority, but his consistency and longevity is something to be admired. He has now won seven bowl games and has five top-10 finishes. Iowa has finished with a winning record in nine of the past 10 seasons, and Ferentz continues to coach at a high level.
2. Iowa’s run defense rallied: Boston College freshman running back A.J. Dillon has created problems for plenty of defenses this season, and that trend continued during the first half of the Pinstripe Bowl. Dillon rushed for 126 yards with 1 touchdown in the first half, which included a 66-yard run. Iowa entered the day allowing 142.1 rushing yards per game, but Boston College tallied 154 yards by halftime.
Dillon was the ACC Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,432 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season. He was especially dangerous during the final six games, gaining 1,099 yards with 11 touchdowns.
Given the frigid New York temperatures, which hovered at 23 degrees for kickoff, both teams’ running games figured to be vital. But Iowa toughened up in the second half, allowing just 28 yards rushing after halftime.
3. Iowa’s bowl loss streak is over Iowa hadn’t won a bowl game since a 27-24 victory against Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl. In the next five bowl game appearances, the Hawkeyes lost the Insight Bowl, the Outback Bowl, the TaxSlayer Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the Outback Bowl again. During that five-game stretch, Iowa was outscored 172-75. The only game that was close in that time was a 21-14 defeat to LSU in the 2013 Outback Bowl. But now that streak is done. Iowa has its bowl victory and can celebrate accordingly.
Player of the game
Akrum Wadley earns the honor for showcasing his versatility in the Pinstripe Bowl. Wadley carried 22 times for 88 yards with 1 touchdown. He broke a big run to help set up the go-ahead touchdown. Wadley also caught 2 passes for 24 yards. In addition, Wadley was a nightmare for Boston College on kickoff returns. He returned 5 kicks for 171 yards — an average of 34.2 yards per attempt — which included a 72-yard return.
Play of the game
Boston College faced a third-and-8 at midfield, when Iowa’s defense came through in the clutch. Hawkeyes defensive end Anthony Nelson stripped Boston College quarterback Darius Wade, and Iowa’s Parker Hesse recovered the ball at the 45-yard line. It marked Iowa’s first sack of the game, which could not have come at a bigger time.
That turnover led directly to Iowa scoring the go-ahead touchdown. Wadley broke free for a 27-yard run, quarterback Nathan Stanley found tight end Nate Wieting for 17 yards, and fullback Drake Kulick scored from 1 yard out.
Iowa heads into the offseason after finishing the 2017 campaign 8-5.