TAMPA, Fla. — Iowa ended its football season with a thud Monday.
The Hawkeyes added to a string of recent frustration in bowl games, falling to Florida 30-3 in the Outback Bowl.
It was the Hawkeyes’ fifth straight loss in a bowl game dating to a win over Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl and the third straight season Iowa has ended the season with a loss by at least 17 points.
“To have it end like this, it’s tough,’’ Iowa senior quarterback C.J. Beathard said. “You work all year for this opportunity and to come out and play like this, it’s not what any of us are about. Florida’s a great team, but we didn’t bring our best.’’
The Hawkeyes, who finish the season 8-5, weren’t without plenty of support.
An estimated 15,000 Iowa fans were part of a crowd of 51,119 at Raymond James Stadium, soaking up sunshine in temperatures that reached the mid-80s.
Many spent the morning in the stadium’s parking lots, enjoying one final tailgate party of the season.
They feasted on food, sampled a few beverages and listened to several bands that were playing lots surrounding the NFL stadium.
“It’s become a tradition, ending the season with friends and celebrating a good year,’’ Iowa fan Ron Verlinden of Waterloo said. “Win or lose, we’re Hawkeyes and to get to this point and have a chance to play in a game like this, it’s a good reward for the team. It’s not bad for the fans, either.’’
The surroundings did little to make the outcome any easier to swallow.
“We wanted to win this one for the seniors, to help them put an end to the streak,’’ junior offensive lineman Sean Welsh said. “It’s something we’ve got to get figured out and fix. Losing like this is a hard way to end a season. We have to move on.’’
By the time the Hawkeyes were leaving the stadium, workers at Raymond James Stadium were doing that as well.
Crews tore out the entire playing surface at the stadium after the game and plan to have a new field in place later today for use next Monday when the facility hosts the College Football Playoff Championship Game.