Point/Counterpoint: Will Iowa win the TaxSlayer Bowl?
The Hawkeyes are now 7-5 with one game to play: the TaxSlayer Bowl against Tennessee. Despite the team’s mediocre record, you could say Iowa’s season has been a fight.
For starters, I feel that the Hawkeyes have played their butts off. Sure, they lost five games, but the Hawkeyes have a way of putting up a fight and showing heart.
Their best outings were those in which they showed heart — against Wisconsin and Pittsburgh. Iowa may have lost to the Badgers, but it kept up with a team that was ranked and played with intensity. In their game against the Panthers, the Hawkeyes also showed how well they play on the road. They’ve traditionally performed well away from Kinnick Stadium and usually have a better game plan than they showed all year.
It’s been proven, too, that head coach Kirk Ferentz prepares his team extremely well for bowl games. Under Ferentz, the team is 6-5 in bowl games — 4-2 against teams in the SEC.
Looking at the opposition, the Volunteers have another unsatisfying record: 6-6. Tennessee weathered some bumps this season, and it’s easy to say, coming into this bowl game, the Hawkeyes look finer. Iowa proved that superior teams — Minnesota aside — can’t just run away from it on the scoreboard.
I see Iowa surprising us all in this game, and I see the seniors putting their heart out in their final game of their college careers. I see their game plan being different from what we’ve all witnessed — which should also keep the Volunteers on their toes.
— Mario Williams
Let’s be honest here: Iowa has absolutely no chance of beating an SEC team. Sure, Tennessee doesn’t have the greatest record, but its losses were not to run-of-the-mill teams, such as Iowa State and Maryland.
The Volunteers' six losses this season came against Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Missouri. With the exception of Florida, all teams were ranked throughout most of the season.
Also, three of Tennessee’s wins came against teams that are above .500. I know what you’re thinking — it’s possible to beat teams that aren’t abysmal at best?
Yes. Yes, it is.
If momentum means anything — and it usually does — Tennessee has it, and Iowa doesn’t. The Vols won three of their last four games, whereas the Hawkeyes did the exact opposite.
Although Tennessee is a young team composed of mostly freshmen and sophomores, and just one player on the current roster has played in a bowl game before, the team is going to be determined to prove itself in its first postseason appearance since 2010.
When it comes down to it, the Hawkeyes have shown this season that they can’t find ways to win in big games. They easily had the more-favorable path to a conference title than the other teams in the division, and they could not capitalize on that.
On the flip side, Tennessee made the best of a difficult schedule and did what it had to do at the end of a season to become bowl eligible.
This game will be more of a defensive battle determined by a couple big plays, and in that situation, Tennessee has the upper hand.
— by Courtney Baumann
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