By Courtney Baumann
It has been four weeks since the Iowa football team set foot in Yankee Stadium to play in its last game of the 2017 season.
The Pinstripe Bowl was the first postseason game Iowa has won since 2010. The Hawkeyes managed to fight back from a 7-point deficit at halftime and come away victorious, 27-20, over Boston College.
There were other things causing adversity on Dec. 27, 2017, that the Hawkeyes fought through — it was cold. The field froze, and some players switched over to sneakers because their cleats weren’t helping. The crowd was largely BC fans, adding even more to the away-game feel, and the offense struggled mightily to get anything going in the first half.
In many ways, the game was a whole lot like the entirety of the season for the Hawkeyes, and head coach Kirk Ferentz was one who pointed that out.
“I think the game, in a lot of ways, was reflective of our season,” Ferentz said after the game. “We had some ups and downs this year, some turbulence along the way, that kind of thing, but the guys pushed through it, and that’s certainly what happened.”
The offensive struggle was nothing new. That had been something the team tried to figure out for more than half the season. It was there against Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Purdue.
Perhaps the place where Iowa’s offense struggled the most this season was on third down. The Hawkeyes converted just 34.4 percent of third downs, tying them for No. 104 in the country. To be fair, maybe it was the Big Ten defenses that were better; of the 24 FBS teams worse than Iowa in the category, six of them were also in the Big Ten.
Another place in which Iowa struggled numerous times throughout the season was the running game. There were five games in which the Hawkeyes ran for fewer than 100 yards, averaging just 59.4 yards on the ground.
Though it was also difficult for the Hawkeyes to get anything going in the first half with the running game, they opened it up for Akrum Wadley in the second half. He ended with 88 yards on the ground, 24 through the air, and 171 on kick returns, bringing his game total to 283 and earning him MVP honors.
Similarly to the season as a whole, when things were going wrong, Wadley never lost confidence in himself or his team.
“We came out of halftime with a lot of confidence. There were some things that were working and some things that weren’t,” Wadley said. “We never shied away from the game plan. We just had to overcome adversity.”
With the win, quite a few Hawkeyes got to walk off the field one last time on a high note. The team consisted of 18 seniors, including Wadley and other hugely important players over the past four years, such as Josey Jewell, Ben Niemann, and Matt VandeBerg, just to name a few.
There are a couple others who will leave the team after the win — Josh Jackson and James Daniels. Both juniors announced about a week after the game that they had declared for the NFL Draft.
Both said the decision was made after the game, and that heading into it the only focus was finally bringing a bowl trophy back to Iowa City and making sure the seniors left with a win.
“It’s been a long time since we won a bowl game. We just wanted to come in here, get the eighth win,” Jackson said. “That’s what our goal had been all [December], and we came out and did it. It’s just a great feeling.”