The best way to start your day is right here at Landof10.com as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Hawkeyes Wake-Up Call here with you at 8:30 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.
So let’s get to it. Here is your Wake-Up Call for Monday, Jan. 2.
Bring on the Outback Bowl
Happy bowl day, Hawkeye Nation. After a five-week wait between contests, Iowa is set to take the field again.
As the Outback Bowl ( 1 p.m. ET, ABC) approaches, the Wake-Up Call is drawn back to the comments Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz made a few weeks ago about bowl games not being meaningless.
The Outback Bowl is certainly anything but meaningless to the Hawkeyes. They enter as losers of four straight bowl games. The last two were nightmares, with the 2016 Rose Bowl putting a sour cap to a sweet season.
Bowl games are strange beasts. Teams typically get a month off and it can be hard to predict which teams will get up for the postseason and want to be at the bowl site.
No program wants to enter the Bob Stoops zone, where postseason losses become all too common and bowl struggles are met with a shrug nationally because it’s been seen too many times before. Oklahoma lost five of its last nine bowl games under Stoops, including three of the last four.
Iowa isn’t in that territory yet. The Sooners have lost in more high profile spots than the Hawkeyes, but a win would quash all the bowl talk for a year. The offseason glad-handing circuit would be a little easier on the coaching staff. A senior class with 20 wins over the last two seasons would get a fitting send off.
A win would mean a lot to the Hawkeyes. Bowl week couldn’t have gone much better for them. Now, they need to capitalize on it.
Epenesa joins 1,000-point club
Football season is over, but Iowa commit A.J. Epenesa continues to make history. The Edwardsville High School (Ill.) 5-star football prospect scored his 1,000th career point on the hardwood on Friday night, according to Matthew Kamp of the Edwardsville Intelligencer.
The milestone came in a big game as his 15 points helped Edwardsville top Belleville Althoff in the Prairie Farms/Collinsville Holiday Classic. Epenesa was named the tournament MVP.
Epenesa will take a break from basketball to begin 2017. He left on Sunday to take part in the U.S. Army All-American Game, which will be played on Jan. 7. He will also take part in the inaugural Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 21 in Hawaii.
Just landed in San Antonio! Here we go! #ArmyBowl
— AJ Epenesa (@ajepenesa24) January 1, 2017
Wirfs heading to bowl game
Epenesa isn’t the only Iowa commit heading to Texas for the U.S. Army All-American game. Mount Vernon High School (Iowa) offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs will take part, as well.
Wirfs, a 3-star 247sports composite prospect, is likely to impress with his length and athleticism. It will be interesting to see how he performs against the nation’s top defensive linemen, including his future Iowa teammate. His national profile could increase with a strong performance in Texas this week.
Hawkeyes in the NFL
Green Bay defensive back Micah Hyde had an interception, 3 tackles and four punt returns for 5 yards to help the Packers defeat Detroit 31-24 and win the NFC North on Sunday. Also, defensive lineman Mike Daniels registered 3 tackles in the victory.
Cleveland linebacker Christian Kirksey recorded a team-high 10 tackles and 1 assisted tackle as the Browns lost 27-24 to Pittsburgh. Houston tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz caught 2 passes for 12 yards and 1 touchdown as the Texans lost 24-17 to Tennessee.
Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenway made 1 tackle and 1 assisted tackle in a 38-10 win over Chicago. Dallas linebacker Anthony Hitchens finished with 3 tackles and 1 assisted tackle as the Cowboys lost 27-13 to Philadelphia.
Atlanta defensive lineman Justin Babineaux had 2 tackles in a 38-32 win over New Orleans.
Lots of Links
- C.J. Beathard’s Iowa career went by in a ‘blink of an eye.’
- Meet Iowa’s dancing bear, Jaleel Johnson and how a jokester needed to become more serious in order to succeed at Iowa.
- The Iowa-Florida Outback bowl matchup: Will the Hawkeyes snap their bowl losing streak?
- Big plays from Jordan Bohannon and Peter Jok helped the Iowa men’s basketball team top Michigan in overtime on Sunday, wrote Jeremiah Davis of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.