Iowa‘s and Boston College‘s seasons this year were very similar. They certainly weren’t parallel, and they did not follow similar trajectories, but the basics of the season have a lot of overlap. And they both end in the same place: the Pinstripe Bowl.
First, the schedules. Each team is in a loaded conference. For Boston College, that means being in an ACC Atlantic Division with Clemson and Louisville. Iowa had to contend with Wisconsin and Northwestern in the Big Ten West. Both teams, however, also had to face brutal cross-divisional matchups. Iowa was saddled with facing both Penn State and Ohio State, though both games were in Kinnick Stadium. Boston College faced Virginia Tech (the Eagles avoided Miami), but the also drew Notre Dame in the ACC’s scheduling deal with the Irish.
Each team also pulled off a big upset–though Iowa’s was obviously far bigger. The Hakweyes beat down Ohio State in Kinnick Stadium, and they almost knocked off Penn State there as well.
Boston College, meanwhile, upset Louisville on the road and dominated Florida State at home. Now, Florida State is no Ohio State this season, but the Seminoles are still talented, and had no loss this year anywhere near as embarrassing as the one against Boston College.
Both teams ended the year 7-5, but both could have done better. Each only won four games in-conference. Iowa suffered a bad in-conference loss to Purdue, but Boston College managed to avoid such a pitfall in its conference slate.
Iowa and Boston College both run similar styles of football. Each team relies heavily on its offensive line to control the pace of the game. Each has its own standout tailback to anchor a veritable stable of running backs. Iowa is led by Akrum Wadley, while AJ Dillon leads Boston College.
Each defense has its own cast of leaders. Iowa’s Josey Jewell is the biggest name on either unit, but don’t overlook either team. Both defenses are led by strong defensive lines. The outcome of this game will come almost entirely down to the trenches. Whichever team can establish its running game better–and whichever team makes fewer mistakes–will come away with the win in this one.
The New York Yankees founded the New Era Pinstripe Bowl back in 2010, and it has since become one of the most consistent and best bowl games on the calendar. Privately-owned for-profit bowl games are increasing, which provides great spectacles for fans. The inaugural game brought controversy, as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a salute set up the winning score. Since then, we’ve seen upsets, close games, and the 2014 game–which Penn State won because of a missed extra point in overtime.
This year’s edition looks to be no different. Iowa and Boston College are both talented, have good playmakers, and run similar styles. Each has picked up some big wins on the season. This game won’t be the biggest win for either team, regardless of what happens, but it will give some much-needed momentum moving forward. Each team has plenty of positives to take from 2017. Each team also has plenty of negatives. A win in this game, for either team, would make a lot of those negatives much quieter.