Hayden Fry once said that one of his favorite postseason destinations was the Holiday Bowl, where Iowa recorded memorable victories in 1986 and 1987 and a tie in 1991. Fry also famously loved leading his team in the Hokey Pokey after a big win.
So Coach Kirk Ferentz couldn't have drawn up a more fitting tribute to his predecessor than the Hawkeyes' dominant performance in San Diego this past December—and the postgame celebration that ensued. In its best offensive showing of the season, Iowa trounced USC in the Holiday Bowl 49-24 at SDCCU Stadium to finish with a 10-3 record.
A moment of silence was held before the game and the Hawkeyes removed the Tigerhawks from their helmets in honor of Fry, who died 10 days earlier.
Junior receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette scored three touchdowns—one rushing, one receiving, and one 98-yard kickoff return—to earn offensive MVP honors. Junior defensive lineman A.J. Epenesa was the game's defensive MVP after registering 2.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss. Senior quarterback Nate Stanley finished his career by completing 18 of 27 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
After the game, the jubilant team danced the Hokey Pokey in the locker room. "That was one of Coach Fry's signatures—one of many, actually," says Ferentz. "So that was a nice tribute to him."
The San Diego Iowa Club hosted scores of Iowa fans visiting California this past December to watch the Hawkeye football team in the Holiday Bowl. During the bowl parade along the San Diego waterfront, club members walked behind the Hawkeye Marching Band in support of the black and gold. "Seeing the streets packed with Hawkeye fans chanting 'I-O-W-A' was incredible," says San Diego Iowa Club President Alyssa Richard (14BA).
The club also hosted a post-Hawkeye Huddle party at its regular game watch location, the PB AleHouse, and a pre-game tailgate at SDCCU Stadium featuring deep-fried turkey legs and corn on the cob.
Once inside the stadium, Iowa fans watched their team trounce USC 49-24, providing a storybook ending to many a Hawkeye holiday. "I still held a grudge against USC for beating us in the 2003 Orange Bowl," says Richard, "so the payback was sweet." —SHELBI THOMAS