Iowa 27, Boston College 20 - Pinstripe perseverance

With just 200 yards of offense, Hawkeyes find a way and fill empty bowl

Iowa's Akrum Wadley hoists the Pinstripe Bowl trophy after Wednesday's win over Boston College at Yankee Stadium in New York. (Manish Gosalia/Freelance)
Iowa's Akrum Wadley hoists the Pinstripe Bowl trophy after Wednesday's win over Boston College at Yankee Stadium in New York. (Manish Gosalia/Freelance)

NEW YORK — The only thing that saved the Hawkeyes from being buried in the first half was the frozen turf. Boston College couldn’t quite sink the shovel deep enough.

It got dark and cold fast at Yankee Stadium. That happens when you have 56 total yards and the other team has 281.

Still, Iowa is OK fighting from its back, like a totally confident MMA fighter.

So, running with that metaphor, Anthony Nelson’s strip/sack was the arm-triangle choke and Akrum Wadley’s overall yard-eating effort was ninja choke and in the end the fight official held Iowa’s arm up in the air.

On the power of 200 yards of offense — OK, relative power — the Hawkeyes (8-5) ended their five-game losing streak in bowls with Wednesday night’s 27-20 victory over Boston College (7-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl before 37,667 fans.

Fullback Drake Kulick turned Nelson’s sack and Parker Hesse’s fumble recovery into the game-winner when he crashed in from the 1-yard line with 3:09 left in the game.

Fittingly, in maybe one of the most Kirk Ferentz games ever, the Iowa head coach tied his predecessor Hayden Fry for career victories at Iowa with his 143rd.

“I was never a very good player, but one thing I have a lot of experience at is getting my ass kicked, so I’ve been through that several times professionally,” Ferentz said. “What you learn is you just go back and go back to work. Whether it’s a game we lost or whatever, you’ve got to turn the page and focus on what’s in front of you, and I think that’s what our team did at halftime.”


Wadley piled up 283 all-purpose yards, including 171 in kick returns, and took home the game MVP honors.

If you’re an Iowa person, this game was kind of gross until 4:22 left in the fourth quarter.

One minute, Boston College has a third down at the 50 with the game tied 20-20 and then Nelson’s sack, a 27-yard Wadley run to the BC 18, a 17-yard pass to tight end Nate Wieting for his first career reception and then Kulick gave Iowa the lead on a fullback dive.

Yes, Wadley could’ve gotten his number called and tied Iowa’s career touchdown record. He didn’t seem to give a rip.

“As long as we got the touchdown, that’s the most important thing,” said Wadley, who put on a show for his 43 family members who made it to Yankee Stadium from his hometown Newark, N.J.

The fun part for Wadley was the postgame scrum. Iowa did that “everyone get really close and jump up and down thing” at midfield. A quick stage was set up and Pinstripe Bowl people tossed winter hats to the players.

The Hawkeyes caught all of them. Meanwhile, Boston College sprinted to the lockerroom.

“If you said you’re going to hold a team to 200 yards of offense, you’d like your chances, right?” BC head coach Steve Addazio said.

Most Kirk Ferentz game maybe ever.

After allowing those 281 yards in the first half, Iowa held the Eagles to 102 for the rest of the game. Iowa rushed for 101 yards and passed for 99. Iowa averaged 32.6 yards a punt and the quarterback did a quick kick from BC’s 37.

Most Kirk Ferentz game maybe ever.


Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

“We had the ball. We had a chance to get right back in it, but clearly we had to change our tempo and demeanor a little bit, and I think our guys just made up their minds to do that,” Ferentz said. “That’s the good thing about sports, about life. As long as you’re alive, you get to fight another day.”

The decision to move Wadley to kick returns was spurred by an injury to wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Wadley’s 171 kick return yards ended up being an Iowa bowl record. The 283 yards were a career high.

By the way, Wadley hadn’t returned a kick since week 2 at Iowa State and had just 100 return yards going into the game.

“I wasn’t in the special teams meeting and they sent someone to the lockerroom to find me,” Wadley said. “They said, ‘Hey, (special teams coach LeVar) coach Woods wants to talk to you, you’re up.”

From Nelson’s sack to Wadley’s 27-yard run to Kulick’s touchdown . . . what prominent Hawkeye hasn’t been mentioned yet? Oh yeah, cornerback Josh Jackson picked off his eighth pass of the season, tying Iowa’s season record and taking the national lead in interceptions, giving Iowa the ball with 1:18 left.

Just like that, the “group jumping up and down,” stage, trophies, confetti cannon for the Hawkeyes, something the program hadn’t experienced since a 2010 Insight Bowl victory over Missouri.

“It was a nice Christmas gift, I guess,” Jackson said. “It landed right in my hands, easy pick.”

That was the only thing that was easy about this.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256;



Iowa knows what it's like to be tormented by Stefon Diggs. The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver made NFL lore Sunday with his walk-off, 61-yard touchdown reception that gave his team a 29-24 NFC playoff victory over the New Orlean ...

Think you're a master of all Pinstripe Bowl facts? Maybe you're as smart as you say. Take our quiz on Iowa's bowl destination to find out!

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.

Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.