Gators and Hawkeyes in Outback Bowl

The Florida Gators (8-4) will make a short trip to Tampa and Raymond James Stadium to take on Big Ten opponent Iowa (8-4) in the Outback Bowl on January 2, 2017. The SEC Eastern Division Champion Gators are looking to not duplicate the three losses to end the year last year, after suffering big losses in their last two games.

The matchup with the Hawkeyes features two strong defenses and two struggling offenses. Florida comes into the contest ranked 115 in total offense (345.1 ypg) with Iowa ending the regular season ranked 120 (333.3 ypg).

Conversely, Florida’s defense is 6th in the country (298.6 ypg) with the Hawkeyes at No. 24 (352.8 ypg).

For Florida, they need a high note to finish strong this season. The miserable close to last season with the 41-7 clubbing to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl on January 1, still sits with them and something they want to erase.

“One thing I do know, we've got to go to win this Bowl game wherever we do end up,” McElwain said in his post SEC Championship Game media conference Saturday. “We're going to put a plan together and get the players out there to go play that and go win a game.

“Obviously, we open up with a big opponent next year (Michigan again) in Dallas. So the Bowl game itself, we've got to go play hard and put a plan together and win. The guys have got to go compete, not be afraid.”

The Gators gave the older players most of the time off from bowl practices a season ago. It is yet to be determined if that will happen again this time around. The Gators are still facing a scary injury list, but McElwain believes his guys will be much more prepared to take on a tough opponent.

“I was really disappointed, obviously, in the effort last year, but this is a different team,” McElwain said. “We've got some guys that are in it for a lot more than just themselves.

The Florida-Iowa matchup will be held on January 2, at 1:00 P.M. and will be televised live on ABC.

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