AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – Coach Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes landed in Jacksonville about 3 p.m. Christmas Day -- eight days before they take on Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl. If there was a surprise, it was that it wasn't much warmer in northeast Florida on Thursday than in Iowa -- in the low 50s.
But warmer weather is in the forecast and Iowa will soak up the sun and sand at the Omni Resort at Amelia Island on Friday before its first practice, scheduled at Fernandina Beach High School on Saturday afternoon.
"It's just exciting to be in a bowl game again," Ferentz said as his team got off the plane. "The guys have been really focused; they've worked hard thus far. Great to be in a warm climate now."
The 7-5 Hawks play the 6-6 Volunteers on Jan. 2 in EverBank Field. Tennessee is a 3-point favorite.
Tennessee players are in the midst of a four-day break, given the chance to spend time with family before returning to campus Saturday and getting in one more practice before leaving for Jacksonville. They'll stay at the Sawgrass Marriott and hold daily practices at the University of North Florida.