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The Florida Gators and Iowa Hawkeyes will play in the Outback Bowl. When have you heard that before? I’ll tell you: 2004 and 2006. For the third time in the last 13 seasons, Florida (8-4) and Iowa (8-4) will meet in Tampa, Florida, this time in the 2017 Outback Bowl on Jan. 2, 2017, at 1 p.m. ET.
The Gators, which finished as the No. 17 team in the final College Football Playoff Rankings, were bested by No. 14 Auburn for a spot in the Sugar Bowl. No. 20 LSU received a spot in the Citrus Bowl against Louisville (Florida played in the game last year), leaving UF the opportunity to play in Tampa against Iowa (though most expected Nebraska to be chosen for the game).
It will be the fifth time in the last 15 seasons that the Gators will play in the Outback Bowl against a Big Ten opponent. Florida is 2-2 all-time in the bowl (1-1 vs. Iowa) with its last appearance coming in the 2010 edition of the game, a 37-24 win over Penn State.
The Gators will enter their showdown with the Hawkeyes fresh off consecutive blowout losses: 31-13 at Florida State and 54-16 to Alabama in the 2016 SEC Championship Game. Florida is looking to avoid a repeat of the 2015 season when it also lost both those games (27-2 and 29-15, respectively) only to get routed by Michigan (41-7) in the 2016 Citrus Bowl.
According to UF, the Gators may have multiple injured starters healthy for the game, including senior linebacker Jarrad Davis, who plans to play in the contest.
Florida is appearing in a bowl game for the 25th time in the last 26 years (not eligible at 4-8 in 2013).