On a slick, frozen field, Iowa won the rock fight.
Akrum Wadley racked up 283 all-purpose yards in his final game as a Hawkeye, and Iowa forced two late turnovers to pull out a 27-20 victory in the 2017 New Era Pinstripe Bowl. With the win, Iowa finishes at 8-5 on the season and Kirk Ferentz ties Hayden Fry for the most wins in Iowa football history with 143.
Let's just get this out of the way now: the playing conditions were brutal. Both teams had players sliding helplessly to the ground when they'd try to plant or cut, and it's pretty amazing nobody blew out a knee.
Thanks to the conditions and a stout Boston College defense, Iowa managed only 200 yards from scrimmage in the win (most of Wadley's damage came on kick returns), including a ghastly 53 yards at the half. Still, Iowa kept itself close at the break and eventually wore down the offensively limited Eagles.
The game started positively, with Jake Gervase picking off an early pass and returning it to the BC 6-yard line. The Hawkeyes only turned it into a field goal, but that was the first time Iowa had scored first in a bowl game since 2010 (yeahhh...). Iowa's third drive also started in BC's red zone after a 72-yard kick return by Wadley. That drive at least turned into a touchdown pass from Nate Stanley to Noah Fant, and Boston College's comparatively stronger offensive start only netted BC 17 points by the break.
Iowa gained some aggression in the second half, throwing downfield with more regularity and attacking gaps in the run game. BC's stud tailback AJ Dillion stopped getting free, and it looked like he was running on fumes from the middle of the third quarter on.
Still, the game was tied late in the fourth quarter after an Iowa 3-and-out gave Boston College the ball near midfield. Here, Anthony Nelson made the play of the game with a strip-sack recovered by Parker Hesse, giving the Hawkeyes yet another short field.
Two big plays by Wadley and Nate Wieting later, Iowa had the ball inside the 1-yard line, and Drake Kulick barreled in for the winning touchdown. Boston College was officially flailing on offense at this point, and a poor throw by Darius Wade was deflected and picked off by Josh Jackson (his FBS-leading 8th INT of the season) to effectively seal the game.
Iowa FB Drake Kulick: 1st rush TD of career on his 6th career rush - that's the winning score for Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 28, 2017
The game wasn't pretty. In fact if I were Jim Delany I'd wonder what good it is to continue the Big Ten's partnership with a bowl game played in a stadium that simply isn't suited for winter football. Part of me wants to say, in jest, that let's never talk about this game again.
But the hell with THAT noise. This is the first time Iowa's seniors have left with a bowl win in seven seasons. It's an entire sideline full of grinning faces, a trophy to raise and a blizzard of confetti to bask in. And if you think this was just another game to Kirk Ferentz, watch what happens when Jen Lada asks him about tying Fry's Iowa record:
It'll never matter more to you or me than to the guys on the field and on the sidelines. They're partying, so we'll party too. Enjoy it.
GO. IOWA. AWESOME.