C.J. Beathard

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No. 17 Florida defense dominates Iowa in Outback Bowl blowout, 30-3

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Austin Appleby may not have been able to beat Iowa (8-5) while he was at Purdue, but he was able to do that on Monday in the Outback Bowl with the No. 17 Florida Gators (9-4). Appleby had early mistakes with a pair of turnovers on the first two drives of the game, but Appleby ended his day with 222 yards and two touchdowns to help the Gators pull away from the Hawkeyes in Tampa in a 30-3 victory.

The story of the game was Florida’s defense, which came up with three interceptions of Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard and held the Iowa offense to just 55 passing yards. Iowa was limited to just 226 yards of offense and went 4-of-16 on third down. Even a 100-yard day from Akrum Wadley (115 yards) was not enough to keep the Hawkeyes within reach once the game snowballed out of control.

Florida scored the first touchdown of the game on an 85-yard pass play to Mark Thompson with multiple missed tackles along the way. Chauncey Gardner padded a comfortable 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter with a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the Gators tacked on two more field goals from there to pile on in the 27-point victory. Considering how Florida was embarrassed last season by a Big Ten team in the bowl season (Michigan), this must have been a little extra sweet to do the same to another Big Ten team.

The loss by the Hawkeyes clinches a losing bowl record this season for the Big Ten. At 3-6 and just one game remaining to play (Penn State in the Rose Bowl), the Big Ten had a rough postseason that included two New Years Six bowl losses by Michigan and Ohio State (in the College Football Playoff). A Penn State win would at least give the Big Ten a split in NY6 bowl games if it can beat USC in the Rose Bowl. The SEC is now 6-5 in the bowl season with two more games to play. Auburn faces Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl later tonight and Alabama will face Clemson in the nationla championship game next week.

Iowa has now been outscored 172-75 in its last five bowl games, which has culminated in a five-game bowl losing streak for Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes. Florida head coach Jim McElwain picked up his first bowl victory of his career.

Iowa’s 2017 season will get underway on September 2 at home against Wyoming from the Mountain West Conference. Iowa will play key division game son the road against Wisconsin and Nebraska next fall, as well as on the road against Big Ten East opponent Michigan State (who can’t possibly be as bad in 2017 as they were in 2016, right). The Hawkeyes also host Ohio State in early November next fall.

Florida’s 2017 season will start in Arlington, Texas against the Michigan Wolverines on September 2 in the Cowboys Kickoff. Other non-conference games will include home games against UAB (the Blazers are back in 2017!) and rival Florida State. In conference play, the Gators host Tennessee as well as LSU and Texas A&M.

As a reminder, the Florida victory means you get a free bloomin’ onion at your local Outback Steakhouse tomorrow, January 3.

North Dakota State extends FBS winning streak with last-second kick vs. No. 13 Iowa

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North Dakota State had won five straight games against FBS opponents. On Saturday, that streak extended to six as a last-secodn field goal by Cam Pedersen snuck just inside the right upright to clip No. 13 Iowa (2-1) for a 22-20 victory.

North Dakota State orchestrated a gut-wrenching 15-play touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a touchdown to cut Iowa’s 21-14 lead down to 21-20. Then came decision time for Bison head coach Chris Kileman. Go for the extra point attempt to tie the game at 21-21, or attempt a two-point conversion and hope the defense can hang on for a wild 22-21 victory against the defending Big Ten West champions with 3:41 to play? The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Bison defense forced a masterful and well-timed three-and-out that forced a punt, which set North Dakota State up at their own 34-yard line with 1:44 to play.

Iowa’s defense came up incredibly small on the first play, giving North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick far too much open field to run 29 yards. That was followed by a 10-yard pass to RJ Urzendowski and a couple short runs to set the field goal unit at the 20-yard line for a 37-yard try.

North Dakota State out-gained Iowa in total offense, 363-231, including an astounding 239 rushing yards to Iowa’s 34 rushing yards on 25 attempts. Each team had an intercepted pass, but North Dakota State was the only team to create points off the turnover with a pick-six in the first half. Iowa’s defense came up with an interception in the first half, but the offense was left to a three-and-out with no yards picked up.

North Dakota State’s Six-Game FBS Winning Streak

  • 2010: Kansas
  • 2011: Minnesota
  • 2012: Colorado State
  • 2013: Kansas State
  • 2014: Iowa State
  • 2016: Iowa

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard was hit or miss for most of the afternoon, but he did toss three touchdowns, including a pair to Matt VandeBerg.

Unless a game is added to the schedule in the next few years, which undoubtedly it may despite the evidence suggesting FBS schools should be taking a pass on the Bison, North Dakota State’s next scheduled game against an FBS opponent is not until 2020. North Dakota State makes a trip to Oregon that season, and a future game at Colorado comes up in 2024. The five-time defending FCS champions have answered every challenge so far with a pair of overtime victories against high-quality FCS opponents and today’s win at Iowa. From here, it should be smooth sailing, right? Next up is a Missouri Vallet Football Conference opener with Illinois State. The two faced off for the FCS championship last season, and Illinois State also has a win against a Big Ten team this season. Illinois State edged Northwestern last week.

Iowa will get away next week to play Rutgers in a Big Ten opener.

North Dakota State FBS win streak in jeopardy at Iowa; Hawkeyes lead 14-7 at half

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The North Dakota State Bison, five-time defending champions of the FCS, scored the first touchdown of the day at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes have come back to take a lead into halftime.

North Dakota State opened the scoring late in the first quarter with the defense doing the honors. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard was hit as he attempted a pass and linebacker MJ Stumpf managed to be in the right spot at the right time to get his hands on the ball as it popped out of the quarterback’s hands. He managed to return the turnover 21 yards for the score. Beathard would make up for the mistake in the second quarter.

After getting a feel for what North Dakota State was doing defensively, the Hawkeyes eventually figured out how to move the football. Beathard got Iowa on the board with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Riley McCarron, who split a couple of defenders in the open field and had nobody in front to stop him on the way to the endzone. After forcing the visiting Bison to punt away on the ensuing possession, Iowa got on the scoreboard once more with a Beathard touchdown pass to Matt VandeBerg inside the red zone.

Still, North Dakota State appears to be playing the game it wants to hang around and give the Hawkeyes a decent scare. North Dakota State needs to keep the offense on the field, which has been difficult against Iowa’s defense. North Dakota State had just one third-down conversion in the first half, although they did pick up a fourth-down conversion.

Move from QB to WR seems to be working for Iowa’s Ryan Boyle

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It has only been a few days, but the position switch made by Iowa quarterback Ryan Boyle to wide receiver got off to a solid start if the spring football game this weekend was any indication. Boyle made the position switch on Wednesday and then caught two touchdowns on Saturday. Yes, that will work.

“The rest of us have been playing receiver for at least five years,” Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg said, according to the Des Moines Register. “So him three days in, and he’s making plays like that? That says a lot.”

Boyle had a nice 38-yard catch and run for one touchdown. He also got his hands on a second touchdown off a six-yard pass on the final play of the game. Small sample size, sure, but Boyle’s highlights offer a glimmer of hope for Iowa’s offense as it looks to add depth at the wide receiver position. With C.J. Beathard locked in as Iowa’s starting quarterback, Boyle being a team player by converting to a position of need speaks volumes of his commitment to helping the team.

“Players like that, it’s just good to have those guys on your football team,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We’ll keep fooling around with this, and we’ll see where it goes. There are openings on the receiver position … so if he can make a contribution there, it’d be a great thing.”

It is expected Boyle will contribute on special teams in some capacity, if not just as a part-time wide receiver. It should also be noted Beathard needed to undergo an MRI this week after injuring his throwing shoulder in a practice on Wednesday. Fortunately, no serious damage was found other than a bruise.

Iowa’s Desmond King will return for senior season

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With a growing list of underclassmen declaring for the NFL in the past few days, Iowa received some exceptional news from one of its top players. Iowa cornerback Desmond King will pass on the NFL Draft in 2016 and return to play for his senior season with the Hawkeyes.

The Daily Iowan reports King’s decision to return for his senior season has more to do with unfinished business, a sentiment likely developed from Iowa’s loss in the Big Ten Championship Game and dismal performance in the Rose Bowl against Pac-12 champion Stanford. After an undefeated regular season, Iowa finished the year 0-2 in the two biggest games of the season, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of King. King also didn’t want to leave Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard hanging.

“He didn’t want to leave C.J. [Beathard] like that,” King’s mother, Yvette Powell, told The Daily Iowan. “We talked to C.J. and he was happy. I told him it’s time for you guys to lead your team and to see them on graduation day. That’s a beautiful thing. They want to stick together, that’s what it’s all about.”

King reportedly informed Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz of his decision on Monday.

“Everybody’s surprised,” Powell said. ” It’s not about the money all the time. The money is going to be there. He has more chance to make more with a degree.”

King was a consensus All-American player in 2015 and he won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back. He also was named the Big Ten’s defensive back of the year and earned a handful of defensive player of the year honors during the regular season. His return to Iowa in 2016 will help anchor the secondary which will lose senior safety Jordan Lomax but pretty much have the same identity next fall. Iowa’s defense was in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten in terms of passing yards allowed, but the Hawkeyes had 19 interceptions to 17 touchdowns allowed. King was responsible for eight of those interceptions, and he returned one for a touchdown.