Thirty-four years ago, Tampa Bay held its first college football bowl game known then as the Hall of Fame Bowl. The match-up, between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Boston College Eagles, wasn’t quite the game. The Tampa Bay Sports Authority and the bowl officials had hoped it would be thanks to Mother Nature.
The rainfall that night was so intense and persistent, that only about 20,000 fans made their way to the stadium that night, but the stats revealed it was a very exciting game for those who did venture out, with Boston College defeating Georgia in the final minute of the game.
The second Hall of Fame game is where the newest member of the bowl family began to gain momentum thanks to a signed television contract with NBC. A date change from December to January, and a match-up between Michigan and Alabama, two powerhouse football programs that had never faced each other on the field, sealed that game.
The Wolverines proved they were a force to be reckoned with when, in the last minute of play on fourth down, the quarterback found an open receiver who completed the pass for the game-winning touchdown.
In 1990, the match-up between Auburn and Ohio State drew a staggering 68,085 people, a record crowd unsurpassed still to this day. ESPN signed them in 1992 and their most recent contract extends their partnership through 2020.
In 1995, bowl officials signed a six-year contract with Outback Steakhouse, making them the title sponsor and thus changing the name from the Hall of Fame Bowl to what we know it as today, the Outback Bowl.
Construction of the Raymond James Stadium was completed in 1998, just in time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to start the NFL season there, however, the stadium’s first sell-out attendance didn’t occur until the Outback Bowl on January 1, 1999.
One year later, the Outback Bowl was the first sporting event of the new millennium and only the second bowl game in history to go into overtime, in which Georgia beat Purdue after a 25-point comeback, setting the record for the greatest points comeback in history.
In 2012, Michigan State beat Georgia in the first-ever triple overtime and in 2016, the Outback Bowl celebrated its 30th anniversary.
January 1, 2019 – The Iowa Hawkeyes and the Mississippi State Bulldogs converged on the city of Tampa to face each other in the 33rd Outback Bowl. While none of the previously mentioned records were beaten, the score did change leads five times which made it a nail-biting, sit on the edge of your seat kind of game.
The Hawkeyes defense sealed the win, 27-22, when they stopped the Bulldogs quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald from completing a five-yard pass on fourth down with 25 seconds on the game clock.
The first quarter was definitely not an indicator of how the game would play out because the score was 6-0 MSU at its conclusion.
MSU received the ball first and had possession of the ball for less than two minutes before having to punt the ball away. Iowa didn’t fare much better with their first possession of the game which lasted only 2:06 minutes and produced no points. On their next possession, MSU was able to get down the field far enough for their kicker, Jace Christmann, to attempt and make a field goal. MSU’s possession took 4:50 off the play clock.
Iowa had another short-lived possession of 1:58, and gained a total of two yards. MSU’s third possession in the first quarter took 3:54 off the play clock and resulted in another field goal by J. Christmann.
The second quarter was great for Iowa, but not so much for MSU. Kobe Jones, DE for MSU, received a 15yd penalty for a facemask on the third play of the quarter. Five plays later, Maurice Smitherman, CB for MSU, got a targeting penalty which resulted in a 15-yard penalty and his ejection from the game. Iowa kept the ball for 5:43, 10 plays with four first downs, and only managed to get a field goal by kicker Miguel Recinos. MSU 6 – IOWA 3.
MSU got possession for 1:56 and punted it away. Iowa QB, Nate Stanley then threw a 75yd pass to Nick Easley for a TD. The extra point was good for an Iowa 10-6 lead.
Later, Fitzgerald was sacked and fumbled. The ball was recovered by Iowa and Nate Stanley completed a 15yd pass to WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette for another TD. The score was Iowa 17 – MSU 6.
Iowa received the ball first in the second half, but not before Aaron Brule, LB for MSU got an offsides call and 5yd penalty tacked onto the re-kick. Iowa got four plays for a gain of 5yds and took 2:22 off the game clock and had to punt.
Fitzgerald connected on a pass to Kylin Hill for a TD. The attempt on a two-point conversion was unsuccessful. IOWA 17 – MSU 12.
The ensuing kickoff was then fumbled, forced by Stephen Adegoke and recovered by MSU. Fitzgerald then ran it 33yds for the TD. MSU 19 – IOWA 7.
After a Fitzgerald pass was intercepted by DL Chauncey Golston, Iowa QB Nate Stanley rushed for 3yds and passed to Nick Easley for eight yards and the TD.
IOWA 24 – MSU 19. End of 3rd quarter
The fourth quarter began with MSU taking over at their own 48. On the first play of the drive, Fitzgerald connected with Stephen Guidry for 51-yards and a first and goal at the Iowa one-yard line.
Thre Fitzgerald runs accounted for minus two yards and on fourth and goal, Jace Christmann hit a 20-yard field goal to cut the Iowa lead to 24-22.
MSU would move the football from their 35 down to the Iowa 20 when Fitzgerald was picked of in the end zone by Jake Gervase. From there, the Hawkeyes moved the ball 50 yards on six plays capped off by a Miguel Recinos 40-yard field goal to cap the scoring.
IOWA 27 – MSU 22