Outback Bowl fans get warm welcome in Tampa

While New Year’s festivities around the Tampa Bay area came to an end early this morning, fans from both Mississippi State and the University of Iowa spent their day continuing the party as their two teams faced off at Raymond James Stadium for the 2019 Outback Bowl.

Bulldogs and Hawkeye fans traveled from all over to see their favorite teams go head to head. 

"We traveled from Long Beach, Mississippi. It's about nine hours," said Brian Currie, a Bulldogs fan. 

Those from Iowa had a little longer of a journey in order to see the big game. 

"I think it's a little over 1,100 miles from central Iowa, around Des Moines. I have a son that's a freshman redshirt on the team, so I'm excited to see him down there today," said Chad Carlson, an Iowa resident and Hawkeye fan. 

One family drove over 18 hours, traveling from Connecticut to Tampa just to support their Hawkeye team. 

"I'm happy and excited," said Matteo Pace, a young Hawkeyes fan who made the long trip. 

With burgers frying and beer flowing, the competitive spirit could be felt among fans long before the game began. 

"This is going to be a great Bulldog turnout, and a great Bulldog victory," predicted Currie. 

The constant cowbell ringing from Bulldog fans was continuously answered by the loud Iowa chants.

"The Hawks are going to win today. We love these [Mississippi State] cowbells because Iowa beef is delicious, and I think the Mississippi fans just want some delicious Iowa beef. That's why they keep ringing those things," said Carlson. 

However, despite all the back and forth, there was one thing both sides could agree on. 

"Love the weather! Let me tell you, it's raining at home and 40 degrees," said Currie. "So, yes we love the weather."

The beautiful Florida weather a constant topic for tailgating fans. 

"Look at the sun! Eighty degrees! Beer is cold, food is good, friends, family! I'm getting a little emotional," joked Matt Loew, a Hawkeyes fan. 

In the end, the Iowa Hawkeyes came out on top with a final score of 27-22, clinching the New Year’s Day victory. 

Despite the outcome, fans from both sides said there was no better way to kick off the 2019 year than in sunny Florida.