With final work on campus complete, football teams from Iowa and Mississippi State are scheduled to travel to the Outback Bowl site today.
The Hawkeyes have been working in Iowa City since a brief break ended Saturday, with coach Kirk Ferentz upholding a long-standing tradition of wearing a Santa hat during Iowa’s Christmas Day bowl workout.
“It’s tradition, like eggnog and all that stuff,” Hawkeye senior Parker Hesse said. “And it means we’re getting ready for a bowl game, so it’s all good.”
The Bulldogs had the weekend off, completing on-campus practices Friday before returning to campus to catch a plane today.
Coach Joe Moorhead said his 18th-ranked team’s work in Starkville has been productive.
“If we were to go on the field right now, we could operate everything we’re going to do in the game,” Moorhead said. “There will be some wrinkles we add down there, based off of film we watched (Friday). We’ll get together and fine-tune the game plan, but if they set the ball down right now and kicked it off, I would feel comfortable with where we are at.”
The 11 a.m. game on New Year’s Day in Tampa will be the last in a Mississippi State uniform for junior defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.
The all-American announced plans Thursday to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft but said he plans to play in the Outback Bowl against the Hawkeyes.
“You can feel the energy at practice,” Simmons said. “We’re ready to take the field one more time. Just the ability to take the field with those guys one more time is going to be one of the best feelings.”
Moorhead believes his team is ready for Iowa in the match-up between 8-4 teams.
He said on-campus practices for Mississippi State included game plan details specifically for the Hawkeyes for more than a week.
For both teams, today’s arrival in Tampa one week ahead of the game provides an opportunity for the Hawkeyes and Bulldogs to work through a normal game-week routine prior to Tuesday’s game.