Icing on the Cake 01/06/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: big ten bowl games, big ten football, brandon wegher, iowa football, iowa hawkeyes, orange bowl, ricky stanzi
Given the way the entire 2009 season unfolded for the Iowa Hawkeyes, you knew it was not going to be easy. Iowa fought and clawed all season long, trailing at some
point in every game, save the Minnesota shut out, during the 10-2 season. Who would expect the Orange Bowl to be any different? But it was. Despite the fact that Fox TV talking head and former coach Jimmy Johnson during the pre game studio show all but apologized for the fact that Iowa was invited to the game, the Hawkeyes jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead and never trailed during the 24-14 win. A pick six thrown by Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi kept the game close on the scoreboard, but the final score belied the dominance of the Hawkeyes over ACC Champ Georgia Tech. Iowa dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage for much of the game, accounting for the Hawks 407-156 advantage in total yards. Offensively, Stanzi was 17-29 for 232 yards and 2 TD’s while Brandon Wegher ran for 113 yards in 16 carries, including the victory sealing 32 yard TD scamper with 2:03 left in the game. The defense, which shut down Tech’s vaunted triple option attack, was led by game MVP Adrian Clayborn’s 2 sacks and A. J. Edds interception. It was the first BCS victory in Hawkeye history, in their second BCS appearance.
Iowa took advantage of the spotlight on the national stage despite fighting for respect for most of the season. The
victory also capped off a very successful bowl season for the Big Ten. Like Iowa, the conference had been suffering from a credibility gap nationally. Last season, the Big Ten won only once (Iowa’s victory over South Carolina) in six bowl games. The pundits thought the same would happen this season, making the Big Ten teams underdogs in six of the seven bowls involving conference teams. But the Big Ten went 2-0 in BCS games, and became the first conference to defeat 4 top 15 teams in bowl games in the same season since the inception of the BCS system. Besides Iowa’s victory over 9th ranked GT, Wisconsin upset 14th ranked Miami 20-14 in the Cap One Bowl, Penn State beat #13 LSU 19-17 in the Outback Bowl, and Ohio State dispatched Pac 10 Champ and 7th ranked Oregon in the Rose Bowl 26-17. Wisconsin, OSU and Iowa were all underdogs heading into their matchups. The Big Ten is the only conference with 4 teams that achieved double-digit wins this year.
Iowa has now won 15 of their last 17 games, and are 20-6 over the last 2 seasons, with each of those losses having
been by a TD or less. You have to go back to November, 2007 to find the last time Iowa lost a game by more than 7 points. The 11 wins this season tied the team record for most wins set in 2002. The fact is that this years team was Junior and Sophomore dominated. The returning players have been competitive in every game they have been in. Iowa will need to replace probably 3 starters on the offensive line (including Bryan Bulaga who will probably go pro as a Junior), stand out tight end Toni Moeaki, wide out Trey Stross, and linebackers Edds and Pat Angerer. Junior DB Amari Spivey may also declare himself for the NFL Draft. But the truth is that Iowa’s 100 plus man roster included only 13 Seniors in total. That means that they return players like QBs Stanzi and James Vandenberg, RBs Weigher and Robinson (and now healthy Jewel Hampton and Jeff Brinson), wideouts DJK and Marvin McNutt, safetys Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood, D Ends Clayborn and Broderick Bings and so many more. Hawkeye fans are already salivating about the 2010 campaign.