Fans Back in Iowa Watched Game, Hoped for Miracle Comeback

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa-Iowa fans who went to the game got to bask in warmer Florida weather. But many who stayed behind in eastern Iowa huddled in sports bars to show their spirit and watch the game with a group.

At the Fieldhouse in Cedar Rapids, those who wanted a prime seat by the big screen TV's for the start of the Outback Bowl needed to arrive at least a half hour before kickoff. One server said in many ways this holiday bowl was like any regular away game in football season. The crowd is about double the normal size and managers order extra of everything.

But while fans bought plenty, it wasn't an especially happy crowd in the first half. Fans said Iowa looked rusty, LSU scored twice and everyone wondered what next?

Hawk Fan Sylvia Parry was philosophical. "They got where they got this year because they earned it. But when they get to a bowl, they can't seem to get out of a rut," she said.

After halftime, some fans remarked they had seen the same story last year and empty tables started popping up. But then there was new life. An interception turned into a touchdown. After an LSU score late that seemed to put the game out of reach, there was a timely kickoff return that quickly became a score for Iowa. The crowd in the sports bar cheered and Iowa was still just seven points back. But the onside kicked with under two minutes to go failed. There was no last minute miracle pass, no win over LSU.

When asked how long he held out hope, Hawk fan Dave Sulentic said "until the last few seconds, it was down to the wire—what can I say." Another fan, Rich Freeman, added "I stuck it out till the end. I was hoping for an Iowa miracle."

Still, some fans were consoled by one thought. After a 4-8 season last year, a holiday bowl even though it turned into a loss seemed like a fair bit of football improvement.
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