Jan 6

Hawkeyes Win Orange Bowl

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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Photo: USPresswire (click to enlarge)

In the end, Iowa was just too strong for Georgia Tech. The Jackets were held to a season low production in yards (155) and points in a 24-14 loss to the Big Ten runner-up. Iowa's win capped off a very strong showing for the conference, which went 4-2, with four wins over top-15 teams. This was a game of hard tackling and good defense, and in the end, Iowa's defense was the best unit in Land Shark Stadium. 

The bottom line is that Iowa was able to get a stop when it needed to. Going into this game, the hype was surrounding Iowa's defense against the Tech offense - and folks got what they had been hearing about. With around 7 minutes to go it was basically a one-on-one, unit-on-unit scenario as GT had the ball and was trailing, 17-14. Back at Tech's 20-yard line, who would prevail? The Iowa D? Or the Jacket O?

It was Iowa's D that got it done, somewhat aided by a very strange running decision by Tech's Jonathon Dwyer. The Hawkeyes forced a Jacket punt, and promptly put the game away with a late touchdown to put some sweet icing on this Orange Bowl triumph.

The Hawkeyes were led by junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who had been injured for weeks before this game. Stanzi was knocked out early in the first of two losses (Northwestern), or there is no telling where this Iowa team would have finished. Anyway, he was 17 of 29 for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Tech's quarterback, Josh Nesbitt, had just 46 yards rushing and 12 yards via the air. The game's MVP was defensive end Adrian Clayborn of Iowa.

When 2010 opens, Iowa must be a top-10 selection, regardless of who is coming back (Stanzi returns, star Clayborn on D also says he is coming back). I am sold that they are one of the top programs in America. Under 11th year Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, Iowa is known for their hard-nosed style of play and solid gameplans. In this game they were able to figure out Paul Johnson's complex option offense - one of just a few teams that have been able to do that over the last two seasons.

Georgia Tech, meanwhile, is still a player or two short from reaching a true belonging in the national top-10. The Jackets are a very good team, don't get me wrong. But to reach the elite level, they need another playmaker or two on both sides of the ball. Johnson's scheme is time tested, but it will need a few wrinkles to keep the opposition honest. Still, expect GT to be a top-15 pick in 2010.

Congrats to the Hawkeys on a fantastic 2009 season, and an excellent Orange Bowl victory...

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