Iowa Hawkeyes set to take on Mississippi State Bulldog's in Outback Bowl New Year's Day

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(KWQC) - The Iowa Hawkeyes will play in the New Year’s Day Outback Bowl Tuesday morning. The Hawks are in Florida taking-on 18th ranked Mississippi State.

It seems the Outback Bowl loves Hawkeye nation. Northwestern beat Iowa and won the Big Ten West but regardless, Iowa still got the invite over Northwestern.

Hawkeye Defensive End Jake Gervesa says, “A lot that probably went into the decision is just our losses being so close you know one-possession games that could have been different if one or two plays went our way compared to the other way so it speaks volume to the team that we have and the season that we can have if we go out and get this final win."

There are a few things on the line for today’s game. The Mississippi State Bulldogs have a shot at their biggest bowl win since they beat Michigan in the Gator Bowl eight years ago. Along with that, the chance to finish in the top 25 for the third time in five years.

The Hawkeyes are after their biggest bowl win since the 2009 season when they beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. With a victory win, they'll likely finish in the top 25 for only the second time in the past nine seasons.

Some players to watch out for...

• The Bulldog’s Nick Fitzgerald. He broke Tim Tebow’s Southeastern Conference record for most career yards rushing by a quarterback.
• The Hawkeye’s First-team defensive end A.J. Espenesa along with second-team defensive end Anthony Nelson. The Hawkeyes rank seventh in the nation for total defense.
• The Bulldog’s second-team all American defensive end Montez Sweat ranks second in the sec with 11 sacks and 13 1/3 tackles for a loss.
• The Hawkeye’s second-team all American T.J. Hockenson who won the John Mackey Award as the Nation’s Best Tight End. He has 46 receptions for 717 yards and six touchdowns.

Gary Barta, Athletic Director for the University of Iowa, is happy to see the team return the Outback Bowl and says, “Just a real tribute to Kirk and to our history and tradition and to our fans because there were really three bowls extremely interested in inviting us. Whether that would have been the citrus, the holiday or the outback bowl."

This will be Iowa's sixth Outback Bowl since 2004 and the third in just six years. The game is set to kick-off at 11:00 A.M. on ESPN 2.