This is the second in a series of in-depth articles I will be doing on the Orange Bowl. This article focuses on the advantages each team has going into the game.
It would have been hard for the Orange Bowl to pick a matchup that featured two more different teams.
Iowa is a physical defensive team, while Georgia Tech is a quick offensive team. Which will win out? Take a look at three ways each team could come out victorious.
Why Georgia Tech Will Win...
1. The Triple Option
Paul Johnson's triple option offense is one of the most unique in all of football. It has produced two of college football's best rushers, quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Jonathan Dwyer, and has won the Yellow Jackets 11 games this season.
As Lou Holtz said, "They never see the option in the the Big Ten, and they will be amazed the first time they see it and how fast it is."
Georgia Tech has more speed than any team Iowa has faced and has the athletes that are necessary to outrun the Hawkeyes. Plus, the offense looked unstoppable against Clemson, the best defense Tech has faced.
2. Derrick Morgan Will Get to Ricky Stanzi
One of the top defensive ends in the country, Derrick Morgan has the makings of being a game-changer for Georgia Tech. He is the lone bright spot on the Yellow Jacket defense, but also can make the entire defense look impressive against Iowa.
After injuring his ankle Nov. 7 against Northwestern, Stanzi will be playing his first game in nearly two months. Morgan needs to pressure Stanzi and make him feel uncomfortable in the pocket.
Stanzi has been known to make dumb decisions with the football and has thrown 14 interceptions in only nine-and-one-quarter games.
He will likely be even more jumpy in his first start back from injury, and if Morgan can take advantage of that, Iowa's offense will be in for a long day.
3. Georgia Tech Has Played More recently
One could argue that Iowa has the advantage because they got more time to prepare for Georgia Tech, but that's not the case. Both teams found out who they were laying at the same time, and both will have the same amount of time prepare.
While the break may be good for Iowa, allowing them to heal all of their injured players, it is definitely more of a benefit for Georgia Tech to have played recently.
Iowa won't have played at game speed for a month-and-a-half by Jan. 5, while Georgia Tech will have had less than a month off. If Iowa is rusty, Georgia Tech will have an easy time grabbing hold of this game.
Why Iowa Will Win...
1. Defense Wins Championships
While the triple option will be hard to defend, Iowa has the tools available to stop it. Stopping the triple option requires a good defensive front and a lot of speed, two things Iowa excels in.
Iowa's linebackers and defensive line have the speed to match the Yellow Jackets, and their discipline will allow them to not be sucked in by the option.
Georgia Tech hasn't faced a defense like Iowa's yet this year, and the Hawkeyes' physical defense may take a toll on Nesbitt and Dwyer.
2. Ricky Stanzi Is Back
After losing him to injury against Northwestern on Nov. 7, Iowa gets quarterback Ricky Stanzi back in time for the Orange Bowl. Stanzi was extremely inconsistent this season, but his fourth-quarter heroics were the main reason he led Iowa to a 9-0 record before getting hurt.
While his stats weren't that impressive, Stanzi's presence on the field itself makes him a game-changer for Iowa. Backup James Vandenberg played well, but wasn't the emotional leader that Stanzi is.
With their leader back under center, look for the Hawkeyes to provide some fourth-quarter heroics, just like they did throughout the season.
While Stanzi certainly hasn't helped Iowa's turnover ratio this year, the Hawkeye pass defense is one of the most opportunistic units in the country. Sophomore safety Tyler Sash leads the team with six interceptions, and junior corner Amari Spievey has good hands, as well.
Turnovers have been a deciding factor in Iowa's games for the past two seasons. Five interceptions turned into a 35-3 drubbing of Iowa State, and three picks turned into a 21-10 win over Penn State in Happy Valley.
But turnovers also led to Iowa losses, including the loss to Northwestern.
Turnovers will likely be a deciding factor in the Orange Bowl, and Ricky Stanzi will have to limit interceptions, while the opportunistic secondary will have to come up with some interceptions for Iowa to come out of Miami with a win.
Both Iowa and Georgia Tech will use very different strategies in the Orange Bowl, which is fitting for teams with such different styles. Iowa's defense has a chance to shut down the triple option, but Georgia Tech has perfected their offense and made it one of the best in college football.
Something has to give, but will it be the stout defense or the speedy offense. We'll find out on Jan. 5 in Miami.
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