Stars Of The Game: Iowa Football 3, Florida Gators 30

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A look at who played well in Iowa’s 27-point bowl game loss to Florida

Iowa football entered the Outback Bowl as one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten. Although, the Iowa Hawkeyes did not look like the same team that ended the regular season on a three game winning streak when they played Florida on Monday afternoon.

After both teams started slow on offense, the Gators’ defense fed their offense, which led to a 30-point outburst. Florida beat Iowa 30-3 in a game many are glad Iowa wasn’t in the national spotlight.

Despite Iowa losing nearly every statistical category against Florida, not everyone played poorly for Iowa.

C.J. Beathard only completed 7-of-23 passes for 55 yards and three interceptions and Jaleel Johnson recorded just one tackle, but that doesn’t tell the whole story for Iowa. They had their chances to get back in the game or take a big lead early in the game, but they couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities.

Here are the three players who starred for the Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl.

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Mandatory Credit: Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via USA TODAY Network

Akrum Wadley

Nothing on offense outside of Akrum Wadley clicked for the Hawkeyes. It was just the second time this year Iowa failed to score double-digit points, and the first time since 2011 a team held Iowa to only a field goal.

Still, just like in the last three games, Iowa leaned on Akrum Wadley. He gained 115 yards on the ground and 21 through the air, which accounted for 60.2 percent of Iowa’s total yards.

In fact, on Iowa’s two longest drives of the game, Wadley accounted for 64 of Iowa’s 124 yards — 51.6 percent. The Hawkeyes called multiple screens to him, as well as trying to get him in open space to make a home run play for them because of their inability to sustain drives.

While Iowa’s offensive line had a harder time on pass plays, Wadley had to make a lot happen on his own. He showed his elusiveness to get by multiple Florida defenders for a big gain. Wadley even had to evade multiple defenders in the backfield just to get back to the line of scrimmage at times.

Even though he couldn’t single-handedly lead Iowa’s offense down the field like he did against Michigan, he caught over half of Beathard’s completions and was the only part of Iowa’s offense Florida didn’t have an answer for.

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond King

Desmond King intercepting the 14th pass of his career was arguably the most feel good moment of the Outback Bowl. The senior cornerback didn’t get tested a lot this season, which makes this rare interception opportunity even more special in Iowa’s bowl game.

Not to mention he showed his athleticism and ball skills by leaping over Florida’s receiver and needing to use his legs to keep the ball in the air. Somehow, after bouncing around, it landed in King’s arm for his third interception of the season.

It wasn’t just the feel good moment, though. His interception set Iowa up at Florida’s 27-yard line and resulted in their only points of the game. Iowa could have been shutout for the first time since 2000 if King didn’t hand them starting field position in field goal range.

King also showcased his ability as a punt returner. While Eddy Pineiro didn’t give King many chances on kickoffs, King did average 35 yards per kickoff return on his two tries. King returned one of the kickoffs 49 yards and almost to midfield.

On punts, he returned his lone punt 19 yards to the 46 yard line, however a block in the back brought it back 10 yards. Still, Florida knew King is one of the best returners in the Big Ten and tried to avoid him, but King still made them pay whenever they gave him chances.

Desmond King didn’t have any huge hits or key pass breakups, but he recorded his 14th career interception and gave Iowa solid field position as a returner.

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Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Josey Jewell

It’s hard to say anyone on a defense that allowed 109 rushing yards, and for Jordan Scarlett to rush for 94 yards on 6.7 yards per carry, played well against the run, but Josey Jewell was the closest thing to that on Iowa’s defense.

He led the game with 10 tackles and also had one for a loss. Although, Jewell did have some uncharacteristic missed tackles. He left his mark mostly against the pass, though.

Jewell recorded one of Iowa’s three sacks and also had a pass deflection. Iowa only had three pass deflections as a team against Florida.

Jewell’s sack ended the half for the Gators. Florida was at midfield and had a chance to possibly get into field goal range with a quick strike, but Jewell made sure Iowa had a fighting chance in the second half by keeping the game at 10-3.

Leading the team in tackles is nothing new for Josey Jewell. He finished the season leading Iowa in tackles for a second straight year. His 10 tackles gives him 124 on the year, just two shy from his mark in 2015.

Jewell also finished 2016 with a career-high nine pass deflections to go along with six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

Josey Jewell is one of the best linebackers in the nation, and he was one of the only Iowa players to show up on January 2. Iowa giving up a 46-yard run to Scarlett and an 85-yard screen pass to Mark Thompson doesn’t do justice to how well Jewell played.

Even if Iowa’s defense allowed 30 points for just the fourth time this season, Jewell acted as the anchor they needed in the middle of the field.

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