Florida’s flameout in the 2016 SEC Championship Game obviously left the Gators without a prayer of making an appearance in the Sugar Bowl for the first time since it became part of the “New Year’s Six” bowls affiliated with the College Football Playoff.
But the Gators still got a fine holiday gift: A trip to Tampa to play Iowa in the 2017 Outback Bowl, one that keeps Florida in its home state for the second consecutive postseason.
The game will take place on January 2, a Monday, and kickoff at 1 p.m. Eastern. It will air on ABC opposite the Cotton Bowl on ESPN.
The Hawkeyes went 8-4, finished third in the Big Ten West, and fell to FCS power North Dakota State at home in 2016, but did hand Michigan one of the Wolverines’ two losses on the year.
Florida and Iowa have met in the Outback Bowl twice before. In the 2003 Outback Bowl — Ron Zook’s first bowl game as Florida’s head coach, and a game notorious for a Vernell Brown pass — the Hawkeyes won, 37-17. In the 2006 Outback Bowl, Urban Meyer’s first bowl game as Florida’s head coach, the Gators prevailed, 31-24.
This will be Florida’s first Outback Bowl appearance since the 2011 edition, when Florida downed Penn State, 37-24, in Meyer’s last game as Florida’s head coach.