Georgia Tech (11-2) vs. Iowa (10-2)
Jan 5., 8 p.m., (FOX)
Georgia Tech take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich:Georgia Tech has been an inspired team since its embarrassing 38-3 loss to LSU last year in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and it enters the Orange Bowl determined not to suffer the same fate. In a matchup of two of the country’s top 10 teams, the Yellow Jackets’ offense will be unlike anything Iowa has seen this year. But the Hawkeyes are a disciplined defense that has what it takes to the stop the triple option -- dependable interior linemen. This game will feature two of the country’s top defensive linemen in Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan and defensive tackle Adrian Clayborn.
On paper, it’s a very intriguing matchup. Georgia Tech has the No. 2 rushing offense in the country, and the No. 11 scoring offense at 35.31 points per game. Iowa is 10th in the country in scoring defense at 15.5 points per game.
The players Iowa will need to stop, though, are B-back Jonathan Dwyer, quarterback Josh Nesbitt, and receiver Demaryius Thomas. All of them have big-play potential and showed it in Saturday’s win over Clemson en route to the program’s first ACC title since 1990. Thomas had his fourth reception of 70 yards or more, and his ninth of at least 50 yards. Statistically, Nesbitt and Dwyer are the second-best rushing tandem in ACC history.
Iowa take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: Nothing came easily for Iowa this season, even the team's BCS at-large berth.
Hawkeyes fans had to sweat it out Sunday night and hope bowl selection committees prioritized what had happened on the field ahead of outside factors in their final decisions. Because between the lines, Iowa was a heck of a football team this fall. And it gets one final chance to silence its critics against ACC champion Georgia Tech in the FedEx Orange Bowl.
Kirk Ferentz's team will get a big boost for the bowl as quarterback Ricky Stanzi returns from a severe right ankle sprain. Stanzi drives fans nuts with interceptions, but he's a tremendous clutch player and instills confidence in everyone around him. Stanzi and big-play wideouts Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos face a Georgia Tech defense that can be gashed.
The big question Jan. 5 will be how Iowa's fundamentally sound defense handles Jonathan Dwyer, Josh Nesbitt and Georgia Tech's triple-option offense, which ranks second nationally in rushing (307.2 ypg) and 11th in scoring (35.3 ppg). Iowa boasts an excellent defensive front seven, led by linebacker Pat Angerer and ends Adrian Clayborn and Broderick Binns. Those defenders need to be at their best against the Ramblin' Wreck.
Iowa returns to the Orange Bowl for the first time since 2003, when it got crushed by USC. The Hawkeyes never have faced Georgia Tech.