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2010 BCS Bowl Preview: 5 Things to Watch for in the Orange Bowl

No. 1 in the ACC will take on No. 2 in the Big Ten when No. 9 Georgia Tech battles No. 10 Iowa in the Orange Bowl on January 5. As part of our 2010 BCS Bowl Preview, here are five things to watch for in the 2010 Orange Bowl.

1. GA Tech’s spread option attack vs. Iowa’s stiff run defense
Thanks to a three-headed monster in Jonathan Dwyer, Josh Nesbitt and Anthony Allen, the Yellow Jackets had the second best rushing attack in the nation this season. They averaged 307.15 yards per game, 35.31 points per game and 442.69 total yards of offense per game. There was only one time this season where Tech didn’t rush for over 200 yards on the ground, which came in a 33-17 loss to Miami in mid September. There’s no doubt Iowa has watched countless film on how the Hurricanes attacked the Jackets’ triple-option, remarkably holding them to just 97 yards on the ground. The Hawkeyes rank 11th in the nation in total defense and eighth in pass defense, but it’ll be their run defense (ranked 33rd in the country) that will be tested in the Orange Bowl. Miami succeed because it had the athletes in the front seven to penetrate the gaps and consistently wreck havoc in Tech’s backfield. Led by linebackers Pat Angerer and Jeremiha Hunter, the Hawkeyes have the tools to slow down Tech’s rushing attack. But will they execute come January 5?

2. Does Iowa have any late season magic?
Even though they would have rather won in less dramatic fashion, the Hawkeyes were kings of the comeback early in the season. They needed two blocked field goals to beat Northern Iowa in Week 1, a 16-point forth quarter to beat Penn State on the road, an interception in the final minutes to defeat Michigan at home, a come-from-behind second half win over Wisconsin and a last-second, fourth-down miracle to beat Michigan State in East Lansing. While some may point out that Iowa had a little luck running through its veins this season, there’s no doubt the Hawkeyes had some magic sprinkled in there too. It wasn’t until quarterback Ricky Stanzi got knocked out of a game against Northwestern in early November that things started to go wrong. Back to back losses against Northwestern and Ohio State knocked Iowa out of national title contention, but a 12-0 win over Minnesota in their final game of the season helped the Hawkeyes reach a BCS bowl. Did they save any magic for Georgia Tech?

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The Official Orange Bowl Smack Talk Thread: Iowa vs. Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech and their high-powered option attack will invade Land Shark Stadium to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at the 2010 Orange Bowl in Miami.

2010 Orange Bowl Game Information:
Matchup: Georgia Tech vs. Iowa
Venue: Land Shark Stadium
Kickoff: 8:00PM ET
TV: FOX
Odds: Georgia Tech –3.5

Key Stats:
The Yellow Jackets enter this game with the second best rushing attack in the nation thanks to a backfield trio of running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen, as well as quarterback Josh Nesbitt. Tech has averaged over 307 rushing yards per game this season and has the 11th best scoring offense in the country (35.31 PPG). Defensively, the Jackets rank 54th overall, 67th against the run and 47th against the pass.

Iowa’s strength relies on its defense, which ranks 11th in the country and eighth against the pass and 33rd against the run. Senior linebacker Pat Angerer ranks fifth in average tackles per game at 11.25, while junior defensive lineman has racked up nine sacks this season. The Hawkeyes expect running back Adam Robinson and quarterback Ricky Stanzi to be at full speed come January. Both players missed time due to injuries, but have had time to recover and are now practicing again. Iowa is ranked 54th in passing offense, 86th in scoring and 93rd in total offense.

The Bottom Line:
Tech’s spread option offense has virtually been unstoppable this season, but Iowa’s front seven is one of its strengths. The Hawkeyes’ interior defense is solid and the key to stopping the Jackets’ triple option. If this game turns out to be a back and forth shootout (uh, a rushing shootout, that is), then Iowa might have a tough time keeping up. But if the game is ugly, then no team has won uglier this season than the Hawkeyes.

Let the smack talk begin:

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