This is the sixth in a series of in-depth articles I will be writing about the Orange Bowl. This focuses on five reasons to watch and why the Orange Bowl is such a good matchup. To read my past Orange Bowl coverage check out my profile and stay tuned for more to come before Jan. 5.
The Orange Bowl has received mixed reviews from college football experts around the country. Some are billing it the least impressive BCS game because it doesn't have two BCS regulars. Others are calling it a sure classic because of the great offense-defense matchup at hand.
Here are five reasons to watch:
1. Georgia Tech Offense vs. Iowa Defense
This year's Orange Bowl features possibly the most intriguing offense vs. defense match-up of the year. And if you like to see good units pitted against each other, this game is for you. The Georgia Tech offense runs the triple option attack and has had plenty of success this year in the ACC.
Iowa's defense has been outstanding this season in its very vanilla, bend-but-don't-break defensive scheme.
Something has to give. The best way to stop the triple option is to have a good defensive front seven, which is arguably the strongest part of the Iowa team.
Keep an eye on Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer against Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Jonathan Dwyer. Considering how often Tech runs his way, Angerer could end with over 20 tackles.
2. 2010 Implications
With 2010 fast approaching, NationalChamps.net has already published its early bird preseason rankings. Georgia Tech is ranked eighth, while Iowa is ranked ninth.
Both teams return a lot of their key players next season and will likely be contenders for their respective conference titles. But a win in the Orange Bowl, will likely catapult one of the teams into national title contention.
A win would give either team tons of momentum heading into 2010 and it would make a possible top 10 ranking even better.
3. Last Chance to See Players Going to NFL
Neither team has many graduating seniors. Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds of Iowa are probably the most significant losses due to graduation.
But the real story are juniors leaving for the NFL. Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan will be a top 10 pick and seems like a lock to leave early. Plus, running back Jonathan Dwyer and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas are possible early exits.
Iowa isn't very accustomed to players leaving early, but has two players considering making the NFL jump this season. Cornerback Amari Spievey is one of the best corners in the Big Ten and offensive tackle Brian Bulaga was named the conference's offensive lineman of the year.
Bulaga is projected to be a first round draft pick which means he will likely leave school early. Spievey isn't projected to go as high, but still may make the jump.
In any case, it's a good bet that the Orange Bowl will be the last chance to see at least one great player in college.
4. New Experiences for Iowa and Georgia Tech
Unlike many bowl games, the "who wants to be here more" factor isn't relevant in this year's Orange Bowl, as both teams are ecstatic to be in Miami.
This is Georgia Tech's first BCS bowl game and while Iowa was in one before the 2003 Orange Bowl, this is the first BCS game for all of their players as well.
As Kirk Ferentz said, "It seems like it was decades ago not six years ago. It's a really distant memory."
Both teams are extremely well disciplined and won't get caught up in the Orange Bowl hype, but it will be interesting to see how both teams handle their first time on the big bowl stage.
5. Great Coaching Matchup
While the other BCS bowl coaches certainly deserve recognition as well, the Orange Bowl may have the best coaching match-up of them all.
Both Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson were finalists for this season's Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award and have gotten their programs on track for success in the future.
While both coaches have very disciplined teams, their styles are about as opposite as two coaches can be.
Johnson has perfected his triple option offense at Georgia Tech and used the running game and athleticism to get his team to 10-2.
Ferentz is extremely defensive-minded and finds recruits that nobody else wants and turns them into stars. His disciplined and opportunistic defense is one of the best in the country and the Hawkeyes combination of speed and strength has helped them climb to a 10-2 record.
It should be fun to watch which unit takes home the oranges; Paul Johnson's triple option offense or Kirk Ferentz's elite defense.