By Courtney Baumann
NEW YORK — Today’s the day.
It’s been a wild ride of a season, with highs such as Ohio State and lows such as Purdue, but it’s all led up to Iowa and Boston College kicking off the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium.
The Hawkeyes have never faced Boston College, but similar to Iowa, what you see is what you get. The Eagles employ a run-heavy offense and a disciplined defense. The team won 7 games and finished 5-1 in the second half of the season.
Iowa, on the other hand, went 3-3 to close out the season but ended on a high note, putting a 56-14 beatdown on Nebraska in Lincoln.
The key to BC’s success down the stretch has mainly been due to its stud freshman running back, A.J. Dillon. He has racked up more than 1,400 yards in his first season, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He posted 738 yards in his last four games alone.
His production will be a focal point for the Hawkeye defense, because quarterback Anthony Brown will not play for the Eagles. He went down for the season on Nov. 13 with a knee injury.
“I think [Dillon’s] a combination of a bunch of different guys,” Hawkeye linebacker Josey Jewell said. “He might be one of the bigger guys we’ve seen, but he can also move around pretty well for a big guy. I think he’s a really good running back.”
Boston College’s defense has been sound this season, especially in the last few games. The Eagles held opponents to fewer than 20 points in half of their games and fewer than 11 points in three.
Iowa may have a leg up on the Eagles’ defensive plan, though, because BC’s defensive coordinator, Jim Reid, spent some time as the linebacker coach in Iowa City.
Also to Iowa’s advantage is the absence of Boston College’s star defensive end, Harold Landry. The senior had 38 tackles with 8.5 for a loss and 5 sacks in the eight games he played in.
Having been at Iowa, though, Reid may know a few things that the Iowa offense throws at his defense.
“He, for a couple years, played against us,” Keegan Render said. “He probably has some stuff, but at the same time, we just have to trust our rules. We know what kind of defense they’re going to play … We’ll just have to see who has the best strategy, I guess.”
It’s not the warm bowl game Iowa and its fans wanted — the temperature will hover around 20 degrees throughout the game — but the team has been dealing with it. The Hawkeyes have been practicing outdoors since the game was announced to make sure they are ready for the weather.
“We’ve been outside the last couple of weeks. Some days are nicer than others. A couple days ago, it was pretty chilly at our place, too,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I feel like we’re in the Midwest, Big Ten football.”
The game will kick off at 4:15 p.m. CST and will be broadcast on ESPN.