Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets-Iowa Hawkeyes: Orange Bowl Preview and Prediction

Josh McMullenCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2010

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 01:  Ricky Stanzi #12 of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs upfield against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

We’ve hit the Orange Bowl and two teams who wear yellow are in this one: the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Iowa Hawkeyes. Both teams were in the BCS championship hunt right up to the last couple of weeks, before they dropped three of their last five combined. Who will win this battle of the yellow? Read on, dear reader, read on…

Why the Hawkeyes will win:

Welcome Back, Stanzi: Quarterback Ricky Stanzi is expected to be back for the Hawkeyes after missing the last three games with a high ankle sprain. They tried to make do with James Vandenburg, but he sort of cracked under the pressure, losing two of Iowa’s last three (while he also threw five interceptions against only two touchdowns). He is one of the leaders of this team, and his return should be a great boost for Iowa.

The Great Wall of Iowa City: The Hawkeyes’ defense has looked great this year, ranking in the top three in points-allowed and pass defense. They also rank fifth in the Big 10 in rushing defense, and with Georgia Tech running an option attack similar to the Naval Academy, they’re going to need to be as good, if not better, if they want to stop it. However, they do have some big men on their defense. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn has racked up 9.5 sacks this season, and could be quarterback Josh Nesbitt’s worst nightmare. Linebacker Pat Angerer has been seen as sort of a run stuffer, accumulating 135 tackles this season. That could be beneficial against Georgia Tech’s running game.

Receiver’s Army: Stanzi has a lot of options in his passing attack. He will look for the leader of that group, wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who has 41 receptions for almost 700 yards. Stanzi does have other options, especially Marvin McNutt, who is tied for the team lead in touchdowns, with seven. The Hawkeyes have 14 players with at least one reception, which gives Stanzi a lot of options in the passing game.


Why the Yellow Jackets will win:

Defense wins (Fiesta Bowl) championships: The Yellow Jackets have had one of the best defenses in the nation, led by defensive end, ACC Defensive Player of the Year Derrick Morgan. He has been overpowering this season, racking up 18 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks. If the defensive line, which has looked semi-porous this year (giving up 25 points a game and five yards per carry), doesn’t step up, the Iowa offense is going to run all over them.

Shades of Michael Vick: The key to the offense is quarterback Josh Nesbitt, who can run the football as well as throw it (18 touchdowns rushing and 10 throwing). He has improved his accuracy over the season, which just adds another weapon to the potent offense. He has proven himself to be one of the best, along with Ricky Stanzi, in the close games, so if this comes to a shootout, expect a really exciting game. Combine that with the devastating option attack the Yellow Jackets have, and it just may be enough to win.

B=A?: B-Back Jonathan Dwyer took some snaps at A-back in the ACC championship game against Clemson, which provides another weapon for the potent running game that includes Nesbitt and current A-back Anthony Allen. Dwyer has accumulated seventeen 100-yard rushing days, which is the third-most in Georgia Tech history. Combined with an option attack that has helped the Yellow Jackets rank second nationally in rushing, this could be a long day for the Hawkeyes.

Prediction: Iowa 47, Georgia Tech 44 in overtime. Iowa has a ton of weapons, but the Ramblin’ Wreck does, too. It’s a shame one of these teams have to lose, but Ricky Stanzi has proven himself to be an effective player in the clutch.

There you have it: Iowa brings the Oranges back to Iowa City. Will Ricky Stanzi lead his team to a victory? Will the Yellow Jackets sting the Hawkeyes? You’ll just have to watch to find out!