Dec. 13, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. - University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz is taking his Hawkeye team to the Outback Bowl for the fourth time in program history, and has been the case in the three previous events, Ferentz expects the Hawkeyes to have a good time in the Tampa area, while preparing to play a very good opponent from the Southeastern Conference.
"It's great that we know the routine of participating in the Outback Bowl," said Ferentz, while attending the official Outback Bowl contract signing Thursday at Raymond James Stadium. "There is some comfort in that we know what an enjoyable experience it will be for our guys who haven't experienced it. First and foremost, the committee does a great job of hosting us as guests, and Tampa is just a great city to host a bowl event. You know you are going to play a very good opponent from the SEC."
Coaching in the Outback Bowl for the fourth time, Ferentz will match former Penn State coach Joe Paterno for leading his team to the most Outback Bowl games. Ferentz has posted a 2-1 record, with wins over Florida (2004) and South Carolina (2009) and a loss to Florida (2006).
"First and foremost, with LSU the only team to beat Auburn this year, and knowing it beat Texas A&M each of the last two years, against a pretty good quarterback, we know we have an incredible challenge ahead," said Ferentz. "When we played them in 2004, they were extremely talented and very well coached; and they aren't a lot different this year. They have continued to recruit well and they win a lot of games. It will be a great challenge for our team."
Under Ferentz, the Hawkeyes have won a lot of games as well. The Hawkeyes are playing in their 11th bowl game with Ferentz as the head coach, compiling a 6-4 postseason record. That includes a 4-2 record in January bowl games and a 3-1 mark against the Southeastern Conference.
"We are similar to the last time we were here, except we don't have Shonn Greene," said Ferentz, when discussing his current Hawkeye squad. "We don't have that marque type of player, but we got better with each week. The guys worked extremely hard; it has been a fun team to be around and to coach.
"They did not get dismayed when we were 4-3; they improved and turned the corner and had a good season, a very enjoyable season. Our guys have a lot of fun together, they take a lot of pride in what they do, and that is the type of team that is fun to coach."
Ferentz said the entire squad focused on improving from a year ago, and that the seniors and juniors led the way in that department.
"Our seniors and juniors have most certainly played their best football," said Ferentz. "Led by our linebackers, they have worked hard and improved, and set a great example for our entire team, from the end of last season to this point. When we play our best, our defense is good team defense. We know LSU has a lot of weapons on offense, it will be a great challenge."
Outback Bowl ticket information is available at hawkeyesports.com, or by contacting the UI Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-IA-HAWKS. Most tickets are $80, although a few club seats are available on a limited basis at $170. Kinnick Society and Champion Club members have the first opportunity at purchasing club tickets, while others have an opportunity to request a ticket upgrade when placing their order.