Tampa, FL – The Florida Gators won the 31t edition of the Outback Bowl with a bullish defense and a few big plays by the offense. Florida overcame two interceptions on the their first two possessions of the game to defeat Iowa 30-3. Neither team scored an offensive touchdown in the first period. Instead the field goal kickers provided the scoring ending the first quarter, both teams tied at 3.
The second quarter was slightly more active as both teams started to hit a rhythm. The Gators out gained the Hawkeyes in total yards 143-71 in the quarter. Gator ball carries average 6.3 yards per carry in the 2nd quarter versus 1.8 in the 1st quarter. Mark Thompson capped of the first half scoring with an 85 yard screen pass for a TD where he broke several tackles and raced up his own sideline to put the Gators up 10-3 at Halftime.
Iowa opened up the second half with a 13 play, 7:25 drive. The combination of LaShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley moved the ball well against a second half slow starting UF defense. But the Gators defense bended, they did not break. Held Iowa to a FG attempt which ended up no good. The Gators would take over on downs and march down the field where Austin Appleby found DeAndre Goolsby for a 6 yard TD pass to put the Gators up 17-3 after the extra point (12 plays, 80 yards).
The 4th quarter was all UF defense which forced 3 punts and just as many interceptions. Chauncey Gardner Jr. accounted for 2 of those interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. Eddy Pineiro booted two more field goals for 6 more points to end the Gator scoring at 30 points. Iowa QB C.J. Beathard finished the game 7 of 23 for 55 yards and 3 INTs. Arum Wadley led the Hawkeyes in rushing with 22 carries for 115 yard. Iowa finished the game with 226 yards (171 rush, 55 – pass). Gators QB Austin Appleby finished the game 14 of 25 for 22 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. RB Jordan Scralett had a few big runs and ended the game with 94 yards on 14 attempts. Gators rushed for 109 yards and passed for 222 yards for a net total of 331 yards.
1 – Iowa struggled to move the ball on offense versus the Gator defense. However the Hawkeye offense did not hurt themselves with penalties. Just 1 offensive penalty the whole game for 10 yards.
13 – The Gator defense scored on a interception and two made field goals after two more interceptions. In total, the Gators scored 13 points off of Iowa turnovers (including the single extra point).
4 – Iowa ended the game 4 of 16 on third down conversions. Gators defense held the Hawkeyes to a 25% conversion rating on third downs creating favorable filed position for the offense.
The SEC team has won 16 of the 31 Outback Bowls. 6 since 2010. Gators own two of those victories.
The one play, :16 Mark Thompson TD scamper was the Gators second shortest (time) scoring drive of the year. Del Rio pass to Callaway vs Kentucky took :12 seconds
On opening the floodgates on offense
JIM McELWAIN: Well, I don’t think the floodgates were ever opened. We had our opportunities to really open up the floodgates. One of the prettiest floodgates there is, Kerr Dam in Polson, Montana, by the way. There’s actually more waterfall there than there is in Niagara Falls. A little history for you. So if you ever get a chance, go up to Kerr Dam. It’s beautiful.
In your wildest dreams, could you imagine being Outback Bowl MVP?
CHAUNCEY GARDNER: First I want to thank my teammates, coaches, family, but without the MVP — it goes to the guys up front, D-line, Joey Ivey, Cece Jefferson, Keivonnis Davis, the linebackers, and the coaching staff because they put me in good position to make plays, so it’s a credit them for the MVP. It’s really on them. I feel like it should be a team MVP, but I mean, I thank those guys because without them none of this was possible.
On the Florida defense
KIRK FERENTZ: About Florida’s defense? I think they’re pretty good. I thought that coming in, and after watching them live, I’d say the same thing. We’ve got great respect for their team and their coaches. They played really well today.