New York, New York – The Iowa Hawkeyes come into today’s bowl game looking to put the finishing touches on what has been a roller coaster season thus far. They are a young team. It’s fair to say that most fans expected a season with lots of ups and downs. These ups and downs have ultimately landed them in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl played inside Yankee Stadium in New York City. Their opponent will be the Boston College Eagles from the ACC.
Some refer to NYC as the city that never sleeps, but football fans who enjoy watching high scoring games may find themselves snoring if they tune into this one. The Hawkeyes match-up against Boston College features two teams looking to impose their wills in the trenches. Both teams will likely stick to the ground and pound approach, and they’ll try to catch their opponent’s defense off guard with the occasional play action pass.
The Opponent – Boston College Eagles
Iowa will face the 7-5 Boston College Eagles. Boston College comes into today’s game as a slight 2.5 point underdog and will be looking to notch their 8th victory of the season for the first time since 2009. The Eagles have had an up and down year in the ACC, but were unable to notch a single victory over a ranked team. Their 4 ACC wins came against Virginia, FSU, Louisville, and Syracuse. The Eagles started the season with a 2-4 record, but after a victory against Louisville they managed to right the ship. Boston College then finished the season winning 5 of their last 6 games.
Player(s) Who Must Be Stopped
Boston College’s offense is lead by the freshman duo of QB Anthony Brown and RB AJ Dillon. Both Dillon and Brown will look to go over 1500 yards on the season today. Anthony Brown needs just 133 yards passing to surpass 1500 yards, and AJ needs 68 yards rushing to surpass 1500 yards on the season. This duo is young but versatile. The Hawkeyes will have their work cut out for them trying to limit the yards this combo can put up.
Stopping AJ Dillon in the running game will be key. Dillon is arguably the best true freshman running back int he country. He won the ACC Rookie of the Year award and was elected first-team All-ACC at running back. He is a violent rusher who specializes in getting the extra yard, but he is talented enough to take it to the house as well. Iowa has seen a number of incredibly talented running backs this season, but stopping AJ Dillon will be a major test.
Iowa comes into today’s Pinstripe Bowl having lost 5 straight bowl games. Only one of which was ever in question. The rest were blowouts. Iowa has given up an average of 34 points per bowl game in recent years. The offensive ineptitude has been devastating in those 5 games as the Hawks only averaged a measly 15 points.
Boston College defeated Maryland 36-30 in the Quick Lane Bowl one year ago. Prior to last years bowl victory, the Eagles had also lost 5 straight bowl games, including a narrow 31-30 loss to Penn State in the 2014 New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Home Game for Boston College
Will the lack of excitement out of the Iowa camp for this years bowl game be a cause for concern? Chestnut Hill, home to Boston College, sits just 3.5 hours away from Yankee Stadium. More or less making this a home game for the Eagles. Hawkeye fans typically travel well for bowl games, but it sounds as if ticket sales for this one have been poor. The 15 hour drive or expensive flight, the cost of lodging in NYC during the holiday, plus playing in cold weather surely convinced many Hawkeye fans to watch this one from the comfort of their own home.
This is a tough one to predict. Both teams play the same type of football. Plus when you look at statistics it will be strength vs strength in a couple different categories. Statistically speaking Boston College has a better running game and a better pass defense. Iowa has a better passing game and a better run defense. What gives? That’s the million dollar question in what appears to be an even match-up.
This may sound simple, but the winner will be the team that is able to convert big plays and limit turnovers. Nathan Stanley improved his ability to connect on deep passes in the ladder part of the regular season. If he can complete a couple of deep balls in this one then that could be enough for the Hawkeyes to earn their first bowl victory in a long time. If he can’t connect when he has the opportunity to then Boston College will likely leave NYC with the win.
This is Hawkeye Heaven though… in a grudge match like this we’re always going to side with the good guys!
Boston College 17