IOWA CITY | Cut from the same cloth in many respects, Iowa's Pinstripe Bowl match-up against a gritty Boston College team is a fullback's dream.
The Hawkeyes' opponent in next Wednesday's 4:15 p.m. game is built around a power running game on offense and a straightforward, physical approach on defense.
Muscatine's Drake Kulick couldn’t think of a more fitting finale to his collegiate career.
“It's going to be a tough, hard-nosed match-up," Kulick said Tuesday. “We like that kind of football around here. We’re looking forward to it."
Kickoff is a week away at Yankee Stadium, but Iowa has completed two-thirds of the 15 practices it is allowed before a bowl game.
Much of the developmental work has been done and now the Hawkeyes are beginning to focus on the game plan for the Eagles.
To Kulick, it's much like any other game.
“I know that it is the last, but I’ve understood that for a while and I’m just trying to stay healthy and get ready to go one last time," Kulick said. “It’s not a sad or reflective time, it’s just another game to get ready for and another chance to win a bowl game."
Kulick and Iowa’s seniors haven’t accomplished that.
Losses in the five bowl games the Hawkeyes have played since beating Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl provides motivation and a chance for this year's senior class to add that to its resume.
“It’s an important game for us, but we try to bring the same approach to the field every week," Kulick said. “We can't change anything that happened in the past, but we can work to be at our best in our next game. That's the only thing that matters right now."
Kulick said the Hawkeyes have a little choice against an opponent which matches Iowa's 7-5 record.
“They're a good team, a real good team. They like to play physical and they are a well-coached team. It’s a good match-up," Kulick said.
It’s the kind of match-up he welcomes, one last opportunity in a career that has been filled with multiple twists and turns.
Kulick arrived at Iowa in the fall of 2013 as a walk-on linebacker following an all-state career as a linebacker and wide receiver at Muscatine High School, shifting from defense to fullback during the preseason a year later.
He has started 11 of the 37 games he has played for the Hawkeyes, including the 2016 regular-season finale against Nebraska when Kulick suffered a broken leg on the first snap of the game and was carted off the field yelling encouragement to his teammates that energized the crowd at Kinnick Stadium.
Kulick was back on the field during fall camp, opening holes for Akrum Wadley to rush for 1,000 yards for a second straight season. He caught a career-best two passes in Iowa’s 44-41 overtime victory at Iowa State and recorded his first touchdown reception during the Hawkeyes’ 55-24 win over third-rated Ohio State.
Every experience has added to the memories.
“It doesn't seem like it's been five years since I got here," Kulick said. “I wouldn't say it necessarily flew by. It's a long process to get through it from beginning to end but it’s kind of crazy to think that the five years is nearly up."
Kulick, who earned his undergraduate degree in exercise science in May, has been able to do it his own way.
“I felt like I came in here as a hard-working kid who wanted a chance to compete and I dedicated myself to finding a way to make it happen," Kulick said. “Good times and bad, I’ve been able to give the team what I had and at the end of the day, I can walk away knowing I got that done."
Still undecided: Cornerback Josh Jackson puts it at a “50-50" chance he will return to Iowa next season.
The junior said he remains undecided about the possibility of declaring for the NFL draft and foregoing his final year of collegiate eligibility.
“I’ve gone back and forth on it," Jackson said.
He does not plan to reach a decision until sometime after next week's Pinstripe Bowl, a game Jackson will play in.
“I started the season as a Hawkeye and I want to be out there with my team in the last game of the season," Jackson said. “I could never see myself missing it."
Depth unchanged: Iowa has released its depth chart for next Wednesday's Pinstripe Bowl match-up against Boston College.
There are no changes on the offensive or defensive two-deep roster from the regular-season finale against Nebraska. The only change is at the back-up kick return behind Ivory Kelly-Martin, where Ihmir Smith-Marsette has replaced Akrum Wadley.