Bowl games have become one of the most anticipated events of the year for college football fans, with a special emphasis placed on the “New Year’s Six” which features the best teams in college football as well as the College Football Playoff. Those six games include the Cotton Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Peach Bowl, the Rose Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl. In this article, we will review Iowa Hawkeyes bowl games history and the present.
While the first bowl game was played in 1902, not becoming an annual event until 1916, it wasn’t until the late 1930s that more bowl games were created. There is currently 41 Division I bowl games, with 21 of those being created after the year 2000.
The total for the Music City Bowl between Iowa and Kentucky is currently set at O/U 31.5 pts.
The next lowest total for the 38 other bowl games is the Myrtle Beach Bowl between UConn and Marshall at O/U 40.5 pts.
The Hawkeyes have a chance to make history again. https://t.co/kBkhWkuMas
— Ben Stevens (@BenScottStevens) December 7, 2022
Early Iowa Hawkeyes Bowl Games History
The Iowa Hawkeyes Rose Bowl history dates back to 1957 when they won their first “New Year’s Six” bowl game, defeating Oregon State 35-19. Two years later, in 1959, the Hawkeyes appeared in the Rose Bowl again, this time defeating Cal 38-12, showcasing their impressive bowl game record.
Iowa would appear in 16 bowl games before the year 2000, with their longest streak of bowl appearances over that time being eight consecutive years, from 1981-1988. During that span the Hawkeyes played in the Rose Bowl twice, the Peach Bowl twice, the Holiday Bowl twice, the Freedom Bowl, and the Gator Bowl. Over those eight years, Iowa had a bowl record of 4-4 with wins over Tennessee, Texas, San Diego State, and Wyoming.
16 Bowl Appearances Before 2000
In their 16 bowl appearances before 2000, the Hawkeyes held a bowl game record of 9-7, where they had back-to-back bowl victories three times. In each of their back-to-back bowl game victories, Iowa beat Oregon State and then Cal, both in the Rose Bowl in 1957 and 1959.
They then appeared in the Holiday Bowl in back-to-back seasons in 1986 and 1987, where they defeated San Diego State and then Wyoming the next year. Capping off the Hawkeyes’ back-to-back bowl victories before 2000, they defeated Washington in the Sun Bowl in 1995, before taking down Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl the following year, in 1996.
One of the Hawkeyes’ more interesting bowl games in history came in the 1991 Holiday Bowl, which was played in San Diego, California on December 30th. In this game, number seven-ranked Iowa was met by BYU, who was a member of the WAC at the time.
During the game, Iowa’s Mike Saunders would rush for two touchdowns, one in the first quarter, and the next in the second quarter. BYU’s Ty Detmer, who had won the Heisman Trophy the year before, threw for touchdowns in the second and fourth quarters.
Each team, however, would miss their first extra point attempt of the game. The game would end in a 13-13 tie, which is the only tie in the history of the Holiday Bowl.
Today in @HawkeyeFootball History: Dec. 26, 1984 – The #Hawkeyes score 31 straight points & crush Texas 55-17 in the inaugural Freedom Bowl in Anaheim.@ChuckLongIowa – 29/39, 461 yds & 6 TD's incl. 12/24, 241 yds & 4 TD's in the THIRD QUARTER!@Mike_Stoops41 INT@LegacyHawks pic.twitter.com/wb6rs9XRuq
— HawkeyesChronicles (@HawksChronicles) December 26, 2019
Iowa’s “New Year’s Six” Bowl Games
The Iowa Hawkeyes have appeared in 10 “New Year’s Six” bowl games over the years. Of those 10 appearances, six have been in the Rose Bowl, which is historically a matchup between the Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences and the oldest bowl game, first being played in 1902.
They have appeared in the Peach Bowl twice, which became a “New Year’s Six” bowl in 2014 and has been one of the College Football Playoff semifinal games three times since the four-team College Football Playoff format was created.
Iowa’s final two “New Year’s Six” bowl game appearances both came in the Orange Bowl, which has served as the National Championship game five times and has been one of the College Football Playoff semifinal games three times since its creation in 2014. The Hawkeyes have never appeared in the Cotton Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, or the Sugar Bowl.
Six of the Hawkeyes’ 10 “New Year’s Six” bowl game appearances have come in Pasadena, California at the Rose Bowl.
Of those six appearances, Iowa has a record of 2-4, with each of their two wins coming in their first two appearances against Oregon State and Cal, in 1957 and 1959. In their two appearances in the Peach Bowl, which were both played in Atlanta, Georgia, Iowa has a record of 1-1, with their win coming against Tennessee in 1982.
The final two of Iowa’s “New Year’s Six” bowl appearances came in the Orange Bowl, in Miami, Florida. Much like the Peach Bowl, Iowa’s record in the Orange Bowl is 1-1, in which they took down Georgia Tech, in 2010.
Recent Iowa Bowls
Since the year 2000, the Iowa Hawkeyes have appeared in 19 bowl games, and have appeared in a bowl game every year since 2013. Iowa has appeared in nine straight bowl games, 10 if you include the 2020 Music City Bowl, where Iowa was supposed to play Missouri in Nashville, Tennessee, but was unfortunately canceled.
In the 19 bowl games the Hawkeyes have played since 2000, they have a record of 10-9. Over that time, Iowa won back-to-back bowl games once, in 2004 and 2005, and they won three in a row twice, from 2009-2010 and 2017-2019.
In 2004 and 2005, when Iowa won back-to-back bowl games, they first defeated Florida by a score of 37-17 in the Outback Bowl. The following year, in 2005, Iowa took down LSU by a score of 30-25 in the Capital One Bowl.
Longest Bowl Game Winning Streak
The Hawkeyes’ longest bowl game winning streak is three games, which they have done twice since 2000. The first of their three-game streak came in the Outback Bowl, where they beat South Carolina 31-10 on New Year’s Day, 2009. The following year, Iowa defeated Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl, 24-14.
Completing the, at that time, longest bowl game winning streak in Iowa football history, Iowa narrowly took down Missouri in the Insight Bowl on December 28, 2010, which would mark Iowa’s second bowl victory in the calendar year, after beating Georgia Tech on January 5th.
Iowa went on to tie the program’s longest bowl game win streak, first beating Boston College 27-20 in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl which is held at New Yankee Stadium, in New York. Iowa would go on to win two bowl games in the 2019 calendar year, first beating Mississippi State 27-22 in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day, then beating USC 49-24 in Holiday Bowl on December 27th.
Update: 2022 Music City Bowl
Despite the 2020 cancellation against Missouri, Iowa traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to play in the Music City Bowl for what would have been the second time in 2022. This game would be a rematch from Iowa’s bowl game the year before, where they fell to Kentucky 17-20, which snapped the Hawkeyes’ three-game bowl winning streak.
The Hawkeyes wrote a much different story at the 2022 Music City Bowl. Going into the game transfers were the theme for Iowa, as they had already had nine players enter the transfer portal prior to their bowl game against Kentucky.
This forced the Hawkeyes to start freshman quarterback, Joe Labas, who had not seen action in a game until this point. Labas undoubtedly exceeded expectations, completing 14 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown, without throwing an interception.
With that said, Iowa’s defense was the star of the game, as it had been all season for the Hawkeyes. Had Iowa not taken a single offensive snap against Kentucky, they still would have beaten them, as the Hawkeyes’ defense scored two touchdowns, both coming on pick sixes from Xavier Nwankpa and Cooper DeJean.
Iowa held Kentucky to less than 200 yards of total offense on the day and did not allow them to crack the scoreboard. This game truly was a defensive battle. Neither team had over 150 passing yards, while both Iowa and Kentucky were held to less than 70 rushing yards. Turnovers were the true difference maker here, as they were all season for Iowa who had 15 interceptions in 2022.
Iowa Hawkeyes bowl games history is an impressive one. Having competed in 35 bowl games, they have experienced a little bit of everything during the college football bowl season.
From their 10 appearances in the “New Year’s Six” games against some of the best opponents in college football, all the way to bowl games against nonpower five conference opponents, such as San Diego State. The Hawkeyes have won bowl games, they’ve lost bowl games and they have even tied in bowl games.
With a bowl game record of 18-16-1, the Iowa Hawkeyes are currently in a 10-year streak of consecutive bowl game appearances with their sights on continuing that streak in 2023.
Offensive reinforcements coming from Michigan via the transfer portal, Cade McNamara and Erick All Jr. will hopefully be just what the Hawkeyes offense needs in order to find themselves back in yet another bowl game next year.
Never Forget Cooper Dejeans insane stat line in the 2022 Music City Bowl
— Hawkeye Bernie (@HawkeyeBernie) January 11, 2023
Credits on Featured Image: Iowa Fans @ The Orange Bowl/Flickr Nate Wiegle