Wednesday December 27th will mark the eighth New Era Pinstripe Bowl and will pit the University of Iowa against Boston College. It is hard to believe that this will be the first ever meeting of these two great programs. The bowl, organized by the New York Yankees and played in the Bronx, is one of only three bowls held in cold weather stadiums without a dome. The others being the Military Bowl in Annapolis MD. and the Idaho Potato Bowl held in Boise, Idaho. Before the “Pinstripe” game came along in 2010, the last bowl in New York City proper was the Gotham Bowl between Miami and Nebraska in 1962 at the original Yankee Stadium.
For Iowa it will be their first trip to Yankee Stadium and the 31st bowl appearance in school history. Head coach Kirk Ferentz is in his 19th season with the Hawkeyes and has a winning record of 142-97. With a win here in the Bronx, he will tie the school record set by Hayden Fry, who Ferentz succeeded in 1999. That’s saying a lot for having to play in the Big Ten conference.
Both coach Ferentz and his team have something to prove in this game. After a 55–24 blow out victory over #3 Ohio State, only their fourth win vs Ohio State in the last 25 years, the 7-5 Hawkeyes thought they should have gotten a better Bowl game. That wasn’t going to happen with the way the Bowls are set up today. “The fact the game is in New York will shorten the trip,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. He doesn’t want the team spending an entire week “stuck on a bus in New York traffic.”
Too bad he’s thinking about traffic instead of allowing his kids the opportunity to spend a few extra days in the city during the Christmas and New Year’s season. Bowl games are not all about the game unless you are playing for the National Championship. There is no better place to be between Christmas and New Year’s Day than New York City. No other city in America does the holidays like the “Big Apple” and except for British royalty, no one knows how to put on an event like the Yankees.
Boston College comes to the Pinstripe Bowl for the second time, having lost in 2014 in overtime to Penn State before the largest crowd in the history of the game (49,012). The Eagles also come into this game with a 7-5 record out of the tough ACC Conference and like the Hawkeyes they are based on running the ball and stingy defense. Expect some old fashioned, smash mouth football.
After taking a 34-7 shellacking from top ranked Clemson, the Eagles finished the season winning 6 of their last 8 games and are full of confidence. At the introductory press conference BC Head Coach Steve Addazio was genuinely excited to be back and said “Our kids right along, if you asked our kids, they’d tell you, where do you want to be? They’d say we want to be in New York and play in the Pinstripe Bowl,” Addazio said. “I don’t know that there’s anything better than being in New York that time of year. To me, doesn’t get any better at that time, New York at Christmas time. You’re talking about playing in one of the storied, great venues.”
Both teams will bring players from the Metropolitan area. Senior Akrum Wadley from Weequahic High School in Newark NJ is the Hawkeyes’ top running back with over 1000 yards in the past 2 seasons. Growing up 20 minutes from Yankee Stadium makes this trip back home to play in front of family and friends special. Wadley talked about how playing in Iowa made it almost impossible for his family to see him play over the past four years. Boston College will bring over 20 players from the NY area including running back AJ Dillon from Lawrence Academy in New London CT. The powerful true freshman has rushed for over 1400 yards right out of the gate in the tough ACC and should get his 2018 campaign for the Heisman off to an early start in this game.
Kickoff is at 5:15 pm so bring your warm, woolen mittens and crisp apple strudels. These two storied football programs should give us a very entertaining bowl game as we usher in 2018.