Outback Bowl Preview

(8-4, 5-3 Big Ten)
Roster | Stats

IOWA vs. South Carolina
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, Fla.
11 a.m. ET - ESPN

Inside the Series:
First Meeting

(7-5, 4-4 SEC)
Roster | Stats

Pts./ Game
Pts. Allowed/ Game
Time of Possession
Yds Allowed/ Game

Yds/ Game
Yds Allowed/ Game
Completion %


Iowa (8-4, 5-3) returns to postseason play for the seventh time in the last eight years with a bid to the Outback Bowl, after missing out on a bowl last season despite a 6-6 record. The Hawkeyes will challenge the SEC's South Carolina (7-5, 4-4 SEC) on Thursday, Jan. 1 at 11 a.m. ET in Tampa, Fla. Iowa will make its third trip to the Outback Bowl, including a win and a loss to Florida following the 2003 and 2005 seasons, respectively. The program has produced a bowl record of 11-10-1 and has played in January in four of its last five postseason outings. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has won three of six bowl games with the Hawkeyes, including triumphs in the Alamo, Outback and Capital One Bowls. The Big Ten has produced a record of 8-11 in the Outback/Hall of Fame Bowl, including recent victories by Penn State (2007), Iowa (2004) and Michigan (2003).

The 2009 Outback Bowl will mark Carolina's 14th bowl appearance overall. The Gamecocks are 4-9 in their previous 13 bowl games, but after losing each of their first eight bowl contests, the Gamecocks have won four of their last five bowl games.  In its most recent bowl appearance, South Carolina knocked off Houston 44-36 in the 2006 Liberty Bowl.  This year’s 7-5 record marked the first time the Gamecocks posted a .500 or better record in five straight seasons since they had a school-record seven straight years of .500 or better records from 1928-1934. It also marks the third time they will go bowling under head coach Steve Spurrier in four seasons. Like Iowa, the Gamecocks were bowl-eligible at 6-6 in 2007 but did not receive a bowl invitation.

This is the first meeting between Iowa and South Carolina.  The Gamecocks have captured wins in each of their two previous Outback Bowl appearances, and both of them were against Ohio State in back-to-back matchups following the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

The nation’s top running back will take to Raymond James Stadium in the Outback Bowl with hopes of running over the nation’s 11th-best defense (288.92).  Shonn Greene, the Doak Walker Award winner, consensus All-American and Big Ten MVP, leads the conference and is second in the nation with 144.1 rushing yards per game.  Greene ran for a school-record 1,729 yards and scored 17 touchdowns on the year to help the Hawkeyes return to the postseason.  Iowa presents a very balanced offensive attack, averaging 184.6 yards in the air and 189.3 yards on the ground each time out.  Jewel Hampton is also a threat on the ground as he scored an Iowa freshman-record seven TDs this year.  The Hawkeyes averaged over 30 points each contest in the regular season and ranked no worse than fifth in the conference in all offensive categories, with exception of passing offense (8th).  Ricky Stanzi turned in just over 150 passing yards each time out and threw for 13 TDs and seven interceptions on the year.  Sophomore wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is 10th in the conference with 51.8 receiving yards per game.  South Carolina was sixth in the SEC against the rush (128.67), but an impressive third in the nation defending the pass.  The Gamecocks allowed just 160.3 passing yards per game and were second in the conference with 2.5 sacks each contest.  Junior linebacker Eric Norwood averages 5.5 tackles per game, but made his mark behind the line of scrimmage this year.  Norwood led the league with 9.0 sacks – seven of those were recorded in the last four games – and paced the team with 13.5 tackles for loss.  Strong safety Emanuel Cook is 10th in the SEC with 7.2 stops per game, while seniors Stoney Woodson and Carlos Thomas have combined for seven picks in the secondary.

When it comes to the passing game, you never know what the “Ol' Ball Coach” has up his sleeve.  South Carolina’s mastermind has started three different players at quarterback this season -- Chris Smelley, Stephen Garcia and Tommy Beecher – with Smelley leading the way with nine starts.  Garcia, however, has been named the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks in the Outback Bowl.  Kenny McKinley leads the league with 5.33 receptions per game and hauls in 61.8 yards per game.  When SC does run the football, it does so with Mike Davis, who carried the ball 160 times for 3.6 yards per carry this season.  Iowa has been stout against the rush all year long, but it appears the Hawkeyes will be tested more so in the air this game.  Iowa was 10th in the country against the run (98.3) and was a respectable 41st defending the pass (191.3).  The Hawkeyes allowed just 13.3 points and 289.5 total yards per game, which ranked eighth and 12th in the nation, respectively.  Anchoring the line is Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Mitch King, who paced the team with 15.5 TFLs in 2008.  In fact, his 55 career TFLs are the second-most among active FBS players. Pat Angerer tied for fifth among conference defenders with 8.4 stops per game and led the team with five interceptions.  Sophomore Amari Spievey and freshman Tyler Sash combined for another seven picks to help the Hawkeyes to a plus-6 turnover margin, which was fourth-best in the Big Ten.