Iowa Holds Off Mississippi State in Outback Bowl

Iowa Proves they Belong with Outback Bowl Win

Just as expected the 2019 Outback Bowl started with defense. Both Mississippi State and Iowa were forced to punt with a three and out on their opening drives. The Bulldogs then started to move down the field on their second possession which resulted in a 44-yard field goal, giving the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff Iowa nearly took it to the house only to be brought down with a touchdown saving tackle after a 33-yard return but that was about all the Hawkeyes could get going offensively. The Bulldogs then responded with a 42-yard field goal from Jace Christmann to go up 6-0.

Finally, in the 2nd quarter Iowa was able to get on the scoreboard with a 44-yard field goal of their own to cut MSU’s lead in half at 6-3. The Hawkeyes were bailed out by a targeting penalty on the drive which not only gave them 15-yards, but disqualified MSU defensive back Maurice Smitherman for the remainder of the game. The Hawkeyes kept piling it on with a 75-yard strike from QB Nate Stanley to Nick Easley giving Iowa its first lead of the game 10-6. The Hawkeyes then turned to their defense with a strip sack of Nick Fitzgerald at the 13-yard line giving Iowa the ball in the red zone. QB Nate Stanley quickly found Smith-Marsette for a 15-yard touchdown. Giving Iowa 14 points in a span of 53 seconds, and a commanding 17-6 lead over MSU. Just before half it appeared that MSU had connected on a 51-yard strike down at the 1-yard line, but a holding penalty wiped out the big gain and the score remained 17-6 heading into halftime.

Coming out of the half Iowa received the ball first and was moving along until MSU’s Willie Gay picked off Stanley’s pass and returned it 46-yards to the 6-yard line. MSU then punched it in from 1-yard out to make it 17-12 in favor of the Hawkeyes. Iowa then fumbled the kickoff giving the ball right back to MSU deep in Iowa territory. MSU’s Nick Fitzgerald took the very next play 33-yards to the house on a QB keeper, giving MSU the lead again at 19-17. A few minutes later Iowa intercepted Fitzgerald and marched right down for another touchdown to Easley to give Iowa a 24-19 lead with just under two minutes in the third.

Opening up the 4th MSU moved right down the field with a 51-yard pass to Stephen Guidry on the Iowa 1-yard line. Despite the great field position MSU was forced to settle for a 20-yard field goal to make it a 24-22 game. Then just when the Bulldogs looked to go ahead on a touchdown, Iowa intercepted the ball in the end zone after it bounced off a MSU receiver’s hands. Iowa extended its lead with a 40-yard field goal to put Iowa up 27-22, which is how the game would finish.

With the victory Iowa not only improves to 9-4 on the season but they become a true player in the Big Ten for next season. They key will be whether or not QB Nate Stanley returns for his senior season. Stanley paired with the Hawkeyes defense will make Iowa a top team in the Big Ten.

Kip Michalak is a former 3-sport collegiate athlete who has been covering the NBA as an Orlando Magic Insider for the past 3 seasons. Kip has also covered high school sports in Tampa Bay for 5 years. In addition to his basketball reporting Kip has covered a handful of major sporting events, which include: 2015, 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final 2016 NCAA Frozen Four 2018 NHL All Star Game 2016-2020 Outback Bowls