The Southeastern Conference hero worship wasn’t quite as strong in early 2004 as it is now, but most people thought Florida’s terrific batch of athletes would throttle the clodhoppers from the Midwest.
Outside of allowing an early 70-yard touchdown pass, Iowa outplayed and outcoached Florida in every phase of a 37-17 Outback Bowl victory. Iowa held the Gators to 57 rushing yards and rolled up 408 yards of total offense. Florida’s rushing output was an Outback Bowl record low, which later was eclipsed when Iowa held South Carolina to 43 yards in the 2009 Outback Bowl.
The 2004 victory gave the school its first January bowl win since 1959. It was also the first of four meetings with the SEC over a five-year period in bowl games, including three in the Outback Bowl. Iowa also beat South Carolina and lost to Florida in a rematch two years later filled with late-game controversy. Iowa beat Louisiana State in the 2005 Capital One Bowl (a game which will appear later in this countdown).