Ga. Tech, Iowa look for redemption in Orange Bowl game

MIAMI — The temperature in Iowa City dipped to minus-1 Monday and according to, felt like minus-17 degrees. That was at noon.

In Atlanta, it was 29 degrees, and felt like 17.

So, the 49-degree conditions predicted for the 8:12 p.m. EST kickoff of Tuesday’s FedEx Orange Bowl between No. 9 Georgia Tech and No. 10 Iowa should be, as Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi acknowledged, no big deal—even if the wind will make it feel more like 36 during the waning moments.

“We’re coming from a snowed-in town,” said Stanzi, who will play for the first time since he severely injured his ankle Nov. 7 during a loss to Northwestern. “Even low 40s is considered a treat at Kinnick Stadium.”

When the Yellow Jackets (11-2) and Hawkeyes (10-2) meet for the first time Tuesday at Land Shark Stadium, it will be Tech’s vaunted triple option offense and Iowa’s scoring-averse defense taking center stage.

At that point, all that will matter is the team which emerges with the “W.”

“A win anywhere is good,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Monday. “I’ve learned that. And a loss anywhere is painful. It’s about as simple as that. Doesn’t matter if you’re in third grade or college.

“The thing that was disappointing is the last time we were here, the way we played was hardly representative of the kind of football team we had. That’s hard to live with.”

The last time Iowa played in the Orange Bowl, following the 2002 regular season, the Hawkeyes lost 38-17 to Southern California.

Georgia Tech has been in the Orange Bowl six times, more than any other ACC team except Miami and Florida State. The last time: Jan. 2, 1967, the final game for legendary coach Bobby Dodd. The Florida Gators made it an unhappy finale, defeating No. 8 Tech 27-12.

Fast forward to 2010. Georgia Tech will represent the Atlantic Coast Conference in the seventh and last of its bowl games. Last season, the ACC finished 4-6 in bowl games. This season, it’s 3-3 heading into Tuesday’s matchup.

Iowa represents the equally bowl-challenged Big Ten, which also has sent seven teams to postseason games this season. After the 2008 regular season, the Big Ten finished 1-6 in bowl games. This season it’s 3-3.

“We’re out here representing our schools and our conferences,” Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer said. “We want to give the ACC a good name. We want everybody to respect us. I cheered for Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl, but unfortunately they lost.”

Miami is one of two teams—Georgia is the other—that defeated the Yellow Jackets this season, holding them to 228 total yards, 95 on the ground. And it happened in the same stadium in which they will compete Tuesday.

“That loss absolutely has motivated us,” said Tech center Sean Bedford. “It may be the same stage, but we want to go away with good memories of the stadium. We want to turn one of our biggest defeats of the year to one of the high points of the season.”

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson conceded that “Miami was the better football team that day,” but that three games in a 12-day period didn’t help. “I think you have to look back to the previous year, when on a Thursday night we had gotten after them pretty good and embarrassed them. And they were waiting … and returned the favor.”

Johnson knows that the Yellow Jackets, who have the nation’s second-ranked rushing offense and 11th scoring offense (not to mention top-10 rankings in passing efficiency, punt returns and sacks allowed), must run the ball to be successful.

“We are committed to run,” he said. “If we can’t run it we are really going to get whipped. We’re not opposed to throwing the ball. We just want to pick our spots, as opposed to letting them pick them for us.”

As for the Hawkeyes, their mojo comes from the defense. Iowa allows an average of 15.5 points per game, 10th best in the country. It is 33rd against the run and eighth against the pass. The Hawkeyes are led by first-team All-American Pat Angerer, a 6-1, 235-pound senior linebacker; All-Big Ten defensive end Adrian Clayborn, a 6-3, 282-pound junior; and All-Big Ten cornerback Amari Spievey, a 6-0, 190-pound junior.

Angerer said the extra time to prepare for Georgia Tech’s unusual offense has paid off in a big way. “I can’t imagine preparing for these guys in a week,” he said. “I think we’ve seen every play they’re going to run—times 20.”

Iowa’s finishes included seven decided in the final minute. Its losses came to Northwestern and Ohio State (overtime) when Stanzi was injured.

“He’s a little sore after workouts,” Ferentz said of Stanzi. “But, you know, he ices it up, and we don’t anticipate any problems with him.”

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