Orange Bowl Preview

Dec. 30, 2009

(10-2, 6-2 Big Ten)
Roster | Stats

No. 10 IOWA vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech
Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010 • 8 p.m. ET • Miami, Fla. • Land Shark Stadium (72,230)
FOX • Announcers: Dick Stockton, Charles Davis, Chris Myers

Series: First Meeting

(11-2, 7-1 ACC)
Roster | Stats

Pts. Allowed/Game
Time of Possession

Yds Allowed/Game

Yds/ Game
Yds Allowed/Game
Completion %



Iowa is bowl-eligible for the ninth consecutive year and will take part in its eighth postseason game in that time span with the program's second trip to the FedEx Orange Bowl. The Hawkeyes, making their second BCS appearance and first since playing in the 2003 Orange Bowl, will battle ACC Champion Georgia Tech for the first time. The Hawkeyes have produced a bowl record of 12-10-1 and has played in January in five of its last six postseason outings. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has won four bowl games with Iowa, including a victory over South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl.

Big Ten teams have produced a 3-2 mark in the Orange Bowl, including victories by Penn State in 2006, Michigan in 2000 and Ohio State in 1977.

Georgia Tech, 22-15 all-time in postseason bowl play, will participate in a bowl game for the 38th time. Tech ranks ninth all-time for bowl victories (22) and 12th for bowl appearances (38).  The ACC Champion will play in its first major/BCS bowl game since the 1967 Orange Bowl. GT is 3-2 all-time in five previous Orange Bowl appearances and the Yellow Jackets have not played a team from the Big Ten since beating Michigan State 17-14 in the 1985 All-American Bowl.  

Clearly the storyline of the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl will be Georgia Tech's high-powered offense against Iowa's equally-strong defense.  The Yellow Jackets boast the nation's second-best rushing attack at 307.2 yards per game and an offensive unit that puts up 442.7 total yards each time out, which ranked 11th in the country.  On the flip side, the Hawkeyes were 11th in the nation in total defense, allowing just 286.7 yards per contest and just 122.0 on the ground.  Want more? Tech ranked 11th nationally in scoring offense (35.3), while Iowa was 10th in scoring defense (15.5).  GT boasts a plus-7 turnover margin, while Iowa is at plus-6.  And both teams are ball hogs, too.  Georgia Tech led the country in time of possession (34:17), while Iowa held on to the ball for an average of 30:51 per game.  Something will simply have to give. 

Head coach Paul Johnson has successfully implemented his famed option attack at Georgia Tech - a team that rushed for 400 yards in a game seven times over the last 20 seasons, but has done it six times since Johnson came to town.  Those numbers have led to points and the Yellow Jackets have posted 30 points or more on nine occasions this season.  Iowa did not allow an opponent over 28 points once this year.

Leading the way for the Yellow Jackets' offense is junior tailback Jonathan Dwyer, who rushed for an average of 103.5 yards per game this season to rank third in the ACC.  Quarterback Josh Nesbitt rated fifth in the league with a rushing average of 76.2.  In fact, Nesbitt needs just nine rushing yards against the Hawkeyes to give GT two 1,000-yard rushers in a single season for the first time ever.  Together the two helped Tech break the ACC record for rushing touchdowns (46) and rushing yards (3,993) this year.  Despite not having to go to the air very often - 159 attempts in 13 games - Georgia Tech can strike at anytime, having completed 11 passes of 50 yards or longer and averaging 23.2 yards per completion.  The GT passing attack ranked eighth nationally in efficiency (157.4), but Iowa's secondary was fourth in the country with a 91.9 defensive rating and was eighth overall against the pass with 164.7 yards allowed each time out.  The Yellow Jackets threw only five interceptions on the season, but Iowa tied for fifth in the country with 20 picks, led by Tyler Sash (6), A.J. Edds (4) and Brett Greenwood (3).  Eight different Hawkeyes have intercepted at least one pass this season. Pat Angerer led the Big Ten with 12.8 tackles per game during league play and was fifth nationally and second in the Big Ten overall with 11.8 stops each time out.

Iowa's offense averaged 23.1 points and 109.4 rushing and 330.8 total yards per game, all of which ranked 10th in the conference.  Only the passing game at 221.3 yards per game ranked higher and even then it was just sixth in the Big Ten with the second-lowest completion percentage at 54.0 and a conference-high 19 interceptions.  In eight Big Ten contests this season, the Hawkeyes scored 25 or more points only twice and that came in home wins to Indiana and Michigan, two teams that finished last in the league.  So what gives?  Well, remember that Iowa was thrown a curve prior to the start of the season when star running back Jewel Hampton went down with a season-ending knee injury.  His absence meant freshman tailback Adam Robinson would be promoted to starter and Robinson quickly delivered.  The Iowa rusher went for 77.5 yards per game this season, scored five touchdowns and averaged 4.6 yards per carry.  While Robinson was a nice surprise, the Hawkeyes still had to rely on the passing game and quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who played in just 10 games.  Stanzi averaged 218.6 passing yards per game with a 56.0 completion percentage, while throwing 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on the season. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was his leading receiver, hauling in 62.5 yards each game, which ranked eighth in the conference.

The good news for the Hawkeyes is that they will be facing a Georgia Tech squad that was mid-pack in several major defensive categories in the ACC this year.  The Yellow Jackets allowed 24.8 points, 150.1 rushing, 206.9 passing and 357.0 total yards per game, all of which ranked sixth in the league.  What should help Stanzi is the fact that the Yellow Jackets' defense rated ninth with a 135.8 defensive passer rating, meaning it allowed the opposition the conference's second-highest completion rate (61.8), second-most passing touchdowns (21) and the fourth-fewest interceptions (10).  Junior defensive end Derrick Morgan, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, will certainly give Stanzi fits as he led the league with 12.5 sacks and was second with 18.0 tackles for loss this year.  Junior linebacker Brad Jefferson ranked 13th overall in the conference with 6.9 stops per outing.