2006 MasterCard Alamo Bowl Preview
Dec. 22, 2006
Iowa (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten) vs. #19 Texas (9-3, 6-2 Big 12)
When Tate and Hawkeyes take the field against 19th-ranked Texas in San Antonio on Saturday, Dec. 30, they will face another talented state-native slinger in the Longhorn's Colt McCoy. The redshirt freshman quarterback finished his prep career on the other side of the state in Tuscola by edging Tate for the high school scoring passes record with 116. As a Longhorn, McCoy has been raising new standards in his young career. He marked a school record with 27 touchdown passes this season.
After winning in the Rose Bowl for the past two seasons, Texas will play only 75 miles from its home turf but in unfamiliar territory. Despite starting the season ranked in the nation's top 20, the Hawkeyes have been hampered with injuries. Head coach Kirk Ferentz expects his team to be well-rested and healthy when it clashes with the defending national champion Longhorns.
"It's a challenging draw but that's OK," Ferentz said. "We simply need to use the weeks leading up to the game to work hard and improve with the goal being that we play our best on game day. If we do, it should be a heck of a ball game."
Iowa on Offense
His top target wasted no time securing his own place in Hawkeye history. Freshman Dominique Douglas leads the all true freshmen in the nation with 46 receptions and also bolstered the Big Ten's second-best passing game with a team-best 614 yards. That line ranks the rookie as the best freshman receiver in program history.
Like Tate, running back Albert Young also struggled with injury. But the junior kept the Hawkeye's run game alive with 715 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Damian Sims bolstered the ground attack with 638 yards and six scores of his own.
Texas on Offense
Limas Sweed has been McCoy's go-to guy downfield all season. The junior wide receiver grabbed 43 passes for 731 yards and 11 touchdowns. Quan Cosby added a pair of scores and 466 more receiving yards.
While the Longhorn offense is primarily run through McCoy's arm, Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young have combined for 1,385 yards and 13 scoring runs for a solid ground game.
Iowa on Defense
Two talented components could return to boost the Hawkeyes' defense after both missed the second half of the season. Right defensive end Kenny Iwebema missed the last six games with a shoulder injury, while corner back Adam Shada sat out the past five with a sore ankle. The pair are on pace to return for the Alamo Bowl and will add much-needed depth and speed to the Hawkeyes' pass defense.
Crowder plowed through offensive fronts to claim 19 tackles for loss, giving opponents a deficit of 80 yards, and 10.5 sacks. Griffin led the team with 116 tackles, followed by his younger brother Marcus Griffin's 82 stops. Ross broke up 18 passing plays and notched five interceptions.
Keys to the game
When the unit allowed 17 points or fewer this year, the Hawkeyes have been victorious. With Shada and Iwebema back in the lineup, Iowa will have all of its key components back in place on a defense that led the team to a 5-1 start, and in a better position to end the season on a positive, above-.500 note.
Although Tate will have some familiar support in his home state, the Hawkeyes will have to stay focused despite Texas' virtual home-field advantage at a sold-out Alamodome.