Iowa had not won a bowl game since 2010, but that drought is now over. The Hawkeyes (8-5) scored a go-ahead touchdown moments after a costly Boston College (7-6) fumble and the defense held on for a 27-20 victory in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium Wednesday evening.
Drake Kulick powered his way in from inside the one-yard line for a go-ahead touchdown after an instant replay overturned a touchdown reception for Nate Wieting. Wieting hauled in a pass for a 17-yard gain from Nate Stanley immediately after a 27-yard run from Akrum Wadley as Iowa made quick work off a Boston College fumble. Boston College quarterback Darius Wade had the ball knocked out of his hands by Anthony Nelson at midfield with 4:22 to play. Iowa outscored Boston College 10-3 in the fourth quarter after shutting out Boston College in the third quarter.
Iowa’s standout defensive star, Joshua Jackson, had the ball thrown away from him most of the night, but he picked off a pass from wade in the final 90 seconds of the game to help Iowa put the game on ice. It’s also worth noting the game was played in below-freezing temperatures since kickoff, making for a tough playing surface to gain much traction on for both teams. It took Iowa a while to get warmed up on offense against a stingy defense, but it clicked when it mattered the most.
Boston College out-gained Iowa 387-200 in the game but three turnovers to Iowa’s none was too much to overcome. Iowa scored 10 points off those three turnovers, including a field goal in the opening minutes of the game despite getting the ball at the Boston College six-yard line. Boston College running back AJ Dillon rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
The win moves Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz into a tie for the most wins in program history with Hayden Fry. Iowa also gets the Big Ten off to a 1-0 mark in the postseason, while the ACC takes its first hit and is now 2-1.
Boston College will open the 2018 season at home on Sep. 1, 2018 against in-state opponent UMass. Boston College will face one of Iowa’s division foes, Purdue, on the road next season (Sep. 22). Iowa’s 2018 season will also begin on Sep. 1 with a home game against Northern Illinois, followed by a home game against Iowa State of the Big 12.
With the temperature below freezing level, Boston College players have resorted to wearing shoes without cleats to try and keep their footing. Maybe it’s working, with the Eagles leading Iowa at halftime of the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium, 17-10 at halftime.
Boston College’s defense made some big plays early in the game after an early turnover gave Iowa the ball at the BC six-yard line. But after three plays without yielding a single yard, Boston College escaped having just allowed a field goal. The Eagles took the lead later in the first quarter with A.J. Dillon running four yards for a score.
A controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Boston College’s Noa Merritt gave Iowa a chance to capitalize on a questionable penalty. After sacking Nathan Stanley for a loss of 12 yards on 2nd and 6, Merritt was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty that came with an automatic first down. Two plays later, Stanley completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fant to take the lead. Video replay of the penalty in question sure looked like a flag that never should have really been called in a bowl game, or any game, unless there were some choice words that came with the celebration.
Boston College responded with 10 points in the second quarter to take the 17-10 lead into the halftime break. Boston College scored a touchdown on a tipped pass deflection that landed right into the hands of Tommy Sweeney.
Boston College tacked on a late field goal on a drive that started on their four-yard line following a quick kick by Iowa.
A game expected to be a big one for the star running backs has been one-sided in favor of BC’s Dillon. Dillon has already rushed for 126 yards while Iowa’s Akrum Wadley has rushed for just 22 yards on six carries (Wadley did have a long kickoff return in the first half).
WHO: Iowa (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5)
WHAT: The 8th New Era Pinstripe Bowl
WHEN: 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, New York City, New York
THE SKINNY: The Pinstripe Bowl has had a nice little run of entertaining games these last few years. Since lining up a deal with the Big Ten and ACC to fill out the bowl game, three games have been decided by a combined total of 11 points, with a pair of overtime games in the mix. Could this year keep that trend going?
Boston College makes their return to the Pinstripe Bowl for the first time since playing Penn State in 2014, an overtime game won by the Nittany Lions. The Eagles are also coming into the bowl season with plenty of momentum to close out the regular season. Steve Addazio’s program has won five of the last six games, with the lone setback being a 17-14 loss to NC State. Boston College closed out the regular season with blowout wins over UConn and Syracuse to establish some northeastern supremacy over a pair of regional rivals. Boston College also mashed Florida State, 35-3.
AJ Dillon has continued to carry the legacy of Boston College’s running game with 1,432 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Jon Hilliman has also played a key role in the running game with 622 yards and five touchdowns this season. He is also a threat to be involved in the passing game as well. Boston College will hope to thrive on the ground against the Iowa Hawkeyes, who also are known for their ability to run the football.
Akrum Wadley will be the main star for the Iowa offense. The New Jersey native has rushed for 1,000-plus yards in back-to-back seasons and has scored nine rushing touchdowns this season. He also can do some damage as a receiver with 329 receiving yards and three additional touchdowns.
This game could very well go two completely different ways. It could be one of the lowest-scoring games in the bowl season controlled by the running games on both sides, or things could set off unexpected fireworks at any moment and make for another wild back-and-forth Pinstripe Bowl.
THE PICK: Boston College 26, Iowa 23