On Dec. 30, the Iowa Hawkeyes will try to do something they haven't done before when they take on the 14th ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the Insight Bowl: they'll try to win their fourth consecutive bowl game.
Iowa has been to a lot of bowl games. In fact, the Hawkeyes have been to 23 bowl games in the past 30 years.
So, it almost seems odd that they've never managed four straight. Actually, when Iowa won this very same bowl game last year, they marked the first time in school history that they'd won three straight.
Obviously, going to bowls and consistently winning bowls are two very different things.
The Hawkeyes have won consecutive bowl games a few times in the past, but have struggled to put together a solid string of post-season victories.
Dating back to 1956 and again in 1958, the Hawkeyes won the Rose Bowl, first beating Oregon State 35-19 and then beating California 38-12. They didn't get another opportunity until Hayden Fry led his 1981 squad to back to the Rose Bowl, only get slaughtered by Washington 28-0.
A string of bowl games ensued with Iowa winning one, then losing the next. That is, until the Hawkeyes went to the Holiday Bowl in back-to-back years in 1986 and 1987.
Iowa skimmed by San Diego State 39-38 and then returned the next year to slip by Wyoming 20-19.
From there, Iowa's bowl performances went south as they lost three of their next four and tied the other. From 1988 to 1993, the Hawkeyes were still finding ways into bowl games, but weren't having much luck pulling out wins.
As a last hurrah to legendary coach Hayden Fry's career at Iowa, the Hawkeyes went to the Sun Bowl and Alamo Bowls in 1995 and 1996, respectively. They beat Washington 38-18 and Texas Tech 27-0.
1997 brought another failed bowl (Sun), and the Hawkeyes didn't get back to a bowl until 2001, while they transitioned from the Hayden Fry era to that of Kirk Ferentz.
Ferentz's bowl record started off with a 19-16 win over Texas Tech in the 2001 Alamo Bowl.
The next year is one that lives in infamy, however. Iowa was denied an undefeated season by in-state rival Iowa State, which was bad enough for Hawkeye fans. They capped it off with a humiliating 38-17 loss to USC in the Orange Bowl, in front of a huge national audience.
The Hawkeyes turned around in 2003 and 2004 to put together two more consecutive bowl wins. In '03, they handled Florida 37-17 in the Outback Bowl, and in '04 they pulled out the famous, last-second pass from Drew Tate to Warren Holloway to beat LSU 30-25 in the Capital One Bowl.
Just when the Hawks were getting back on a roll though, they lost in 2005 to Florida 31-24 in the Outback Bowl. They turned around again in 2006 to drop to Texas 26-24 in the Alamo Bowl.
The Hawkeyes were next in the Outback Bowl in 2008, when Shonn Greene rumbled through South Carolina's defense to lead the Hawkeyes to a 31-10 victory. They followed that up with an exciting 11-2 season that ended with a tremendous 24-14 victory over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
On a high and thinking they had a team that could potentially crash the BCS Championship party, Iowa went to work in 2010 chasing that lofty dream. They fell considerably short, ending with a meager 7-5 record, but secured a spot in the Insight Bowl against Missouri.
Despite facing an opponent with a 10-2 record and which was ranked in the Top 15 nationally, the Hawkeyes pulled off a 27-24 victory to mark the first time in school history that they'd won three straight bowl games.
Now comes the challenge. Can they build on that history? Can they make it four straight?
History isn't on their side. However, if the last 30 years or so have taught Hawk fans anything, it's to expect the unexpected.
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