The day did not start according to play, however. In his first career bowl game, UF quarterback Austin Appleby threw two picks in Florida's first two drives, after both passes were deflected straight into a Hawkeyes defender. However, Iowa did not take advantage and only managed a field goal from those two interceptions. Despite the shaky start, the Gators managed to take a 10-3 lead into halftime after Appleby found Mark Thompson on a screen pass and the running back ran the rest of the way for the 85-yard touchdown. The defense did its part by stuffing the Hawkeyes on a fourth-and-one goal line stand in the second quarter.
Appleby eventually shook off his nerves and finished the game throwing 14 of 22 for 222 yards, two touchdowns and two picks, but Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard could never find his comfort zone. He threw for just 55 yards and three interceptions, including a pick-six from Chauncey Gardner, which gave Florida the 24-3 edge in the fourth quarter. Gardner also picked off Beathard a second time in the fourth quarter.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Gators and gives Florida a 9-4 record on the season.
RELATED STORY: Gallery: Florida 30, Iowa 3
Game Ball: The game ball for this weekend is split between two freshmen that continue the theme of hope for the future. Vosean Joseph and Chauncey Gardner both were bright spots for the Gators in the win. Joseph was instrumental in pressuring the Iowa offense into many mistakes, recording six tackles (four solo), one tackle for a loss and one pass break up. Meanwhile, Gardner made the future looks bright for the DB unit that will miss many after this season. He finished the day with a pick six and an interception and was named the Outback Bowl MVP.
They Said It: "Just so proud of them. Well-documented, obviously, how beat up we were, and yet we never once all year used that as an excuse in any way, shape or form. It was next man up," said Florida head coach Jim McElwain after the win. "In this case when you take a look at some unsung guys, our defensive line played their tails off, but Cristian Garcia, Vosean Joseph, D-Mac, Rayshad, I mean, those guys came in and played their tails off, and my hats off to a lot of guys that chose to play in this game the way the Gators play and ended up helping themselves in the long run as they look forward to the NFL Draft, and some guys should be really proud of what they put on film, the energy that they played with, the excitement they played with, and the way that they put in the work to prepare. It was really good to see."
They Said It: "Anybody can play in our defense if you just listen to the older guys," said freshman cornerback Chauncey Gardner. "They pass the torch, like Coach Mac said. All week we prepped our eight guys, listen we may be young, some of you guys probably stepping up in roles you never had to play before, just go out there and have fun. Basically our motto was to go out there and have fun. Older guys like J.D., even though he wasn't playing, as long as he was saying, keep your head up, keep your head up, because you're going to make mistakes, and things are going to happen. So it's just the game of football, and we just went out there and had fun and played our game."
By the Numbers: 3- Iowa's lone field goal marks the fewest points the Gators have allowed in a bowl game. 330- For only the second time in the last seven games, the Gators have managed to amass over 300 yards of total offense. 8- The Gators had eight penalties for 60 yards. 1- Iowa only scored once in three attempts in the red-zone against the Florida defense. 171- Iowa only managed 171 yards on the ground with two 1,000 yard rushers on their roster. 3- the Gators forced three turnovers.
Whats Next: McElwain will meet with players on Tuesday about NFL futures and America wins free Bloomin' Onion appetizers with Outback on Jan. 3.
RELATED STORY: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Florida's Win
Stay with FightinGators.com for more reaction from the Outback Bowl