Those of you that are interested in offense and have enjoyed some of bowl season's shootouts will be better off finding something else to do on Monday morning when Iowa and Florida face off in the Outback Bowl. If you enjoy a slower pace, good defense and punts, then this game should be right up your alley.

This game is a matchup of the 78th and 109th best scoring offenses in the nation and the two teams tied for ninth in scoring defense at 17.9 points per game allowed. On paper, this game should be dictated by the defenses and which offense and special teams can do the best job of winning the battle of field position to give themselves the best opportunities to put up points in any form.

Viewing information

Date: Monday, Jan. 2, 2017
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium -- Tampa, Florida

Live streams: WatchESPN / WatchESPN apps


Iowa: The Hawkeyes closed the season very nicely with a three-game win streak that included a shocking upset of Michigan (14-13) and a white-washing of Nebraska (40-10). Those wins came after back-to-back losses to Wisconsin and Penn State where the offense really struggled.

The Iowa offense relies heavily on its two-headed rushing attack with LeShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley, who combined for 1,979 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. Against a Florida defense that has depth issues in the front seven, the Iowa run game figures to be the best bet for success rather than trying to attack Florida's extremely talented pass defense. Florida's defense gave up 200 or more yards on the ground five times this season, including each of its final three games.

If the Hawkeyes can establish the run game and stay committed to it early and often, they can wear down the Florida defense so that by the fourth quarter the three to four yard gains from early in the game will become six to eight yard gains. Iowa's offense isn't dynamic, but against an offense that struggles to put up points like Florida's, they don't have to be.

If the Hawkeyes can avoid turnovers and run the ball effectively, they will put themselves in a great position for the win. However, if Iowa's rushing attack stalls out, the team will find itself in an all too familiar situation of punting regularly. The Hawkeyes were 123rd in first down conversions this season (16.9 per game) and 115th on third down (33.3 percent). If the rushing attack can't keep them on schedule, Iowa is going to have a very difficult time putting points on the board.

Florida: The Gators have injury issues aplenty and the offense has struggled all season, even when healthy, but this is a team that still has some tremendous talent, especially in the secondary. Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson are as good as it gets as a corner tandem in college football, and their presence alone makes the Gators one of the nation's best pass defenses.

Florida's front seven is banged up and their ability to stop the Iowa rushing attack will be crucial, though it looks like the Gators will be getting star linebacker Alex Anzalone back for the game. More important will be the Florida offense being able to sustain drives and keep the defense off the field to avoid significant fatigue. Florida wasn't much better than Iowa at getting first downs, as the Gators finished the season 107th in the nation with 18.7 first downs per game. With the defense being as worn down as it is, sustaining drives against a team that will look to run the ball early and often is crucial.

For Florida to do so, Austin Appleby will have to be better than he was against Alabama, where he had three interceptions including a pair that were poorly thrown balls to open receivers. Iowa's defense isn't on the Tide's level -- no defense is -- but Desmond King is as good as there is at the cornerback position and the Hawkeyes allowed fewer than 200 yards per game through the air on the season (the King-Antonio Callaway matchup could be very fun to watch).

The running game also needs to find life against the Hawkeyes defense that allowed four yards per carry (41st) and 153.2 yards per game (48th) this season. Jordan Scarlett became the workhorse down the stretch, and he can be expected to get the majority of carries against Iowa. If Scarlett isn't effective and Appleby struggles with accuracy again, the Florida defense will find itself on the field for the majority of the game and the Gators depth issues will become a serious problem.

Players Punters to watch

Ron Coluzzi, Iowa: You may laugh, but the punters are going to be critical to each team's success in this game. Both teams struggle to move the ball on offense and regularly find themselves sending out the punt unit. The Hawkeyes have found themselves in games like that before this season, most notably in the 14-13 win over Michigan. In that game, Coluzzi had his finest outing of the year, booming six punts for 282 yards, a 47-yard average that was 6 yards better than his season mark. Field position will be paramount in the Outback Bowl, and Iowa will look to Coluzzi to flip the field and pin the Gators offense deep in their own territory.

Johnny Townsend, Florida: Four times this season, Townsend averaged 50 or more yards per punt on four or more punts in a game. The most notable of those games was the 13-6 win over Vanderbilt, where Townsend had seven punts for 363 yards, good for a 51.9 yard average. That kind of defensive struggle is what I expect to see in this one, and the Gators' punter -- our CBS Sports All-America selection -- could give them a big advantage with his strong leg. It's likely to be Townsend Time an awful lot in Tampa, but his ability to flip the field and force Iowa's offense to try and create long drives could be the difference in this game for the Gators.


I worry that Florida's defense is just too banged up and that Iowa's running game will find enough success early to wear down that thin front seven and eventually pull ahead in the fourth quarter on a long, sustained touchdown drive. Even with the punting advantage, I fear Florida's offense will really struggle to pick up yards consistently on Iowa and the Gators will fall in a close, low-scoring affair, 17-13. I like Iowa outright and especially getting the candy here. Pick: Iowa +2.5

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Florida -2.5