Orange Bowl Win Huge for Iowa and Big Ten

B.Senior Analyst IJanuary 6, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05:  Ricky Stanzi #12 of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates after their 24-14 win against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Land Shark Stadium on January 5, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Iowa winning the 2010 Orange Bowl doesn't just mean something to everyone in the Hawkeye nation.

It means something to entire Big Ten.

Iowa's win, with the nation waching, helps to further restore respect to the conference after a few years of being a punching bag for college football reporters. 

The conference finished 4-3 in bowl games this season, much better than its 1-6 performance last year.  Two of the wins this year came in BCS games. 

All four wins came against ranked opponents.

As a result, the Big Ten should have three teams in the Top 10 when the end of the season polls come out, proving the doubters that the conference is back, if it ever went anywhere to begin with.

Ohio State defeated Oregon, the Pac 10 champion, in the Rose Bowl. Iowa beat Georgia Tech, the ACC Champions, in the Orange Bowl convincingly.

Penn State smashed LSU, a tough SEC team,in the Capital One Bowl. Wisconsin beat up on the ACC's most talented team, Miami, in the Champs Sports Bowl.

For Iowa, the victory caps off their history-making season in history-making fashion.  Their Orange Bowl victory is the biggest win for the school since the 1959 Rose Bowl victory.   

Coach Forest Evashevski captured his second Rose Bowl victory in 1959 with a 38-12  victory over the California Bears. Iowa's Randy Duncan gained  441 yards on the ground in the win.

This time around, it was Coach Kirk Ferentz leading Iowa to a major bowl game victory with a little help from Brandon Wegher and Ricky Stanzi. 

The freshman running back rushed for 113 yards on 16 carries.  Wegher's career-long 32-yard touchdown put Iowa out of Georgia Tech's reach and secured the win.

Stanzi threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns.

The Hawkeyes had a few big plays in this game, but Iowa undoubtedly caused some fans around the Big Ten schools to wonder at times during the game. The outcome has everyone in Big Ten country smiling, though.

The Big Ten, a conference everyone loves to hate, dominated its bowl games this year, silencing a lot of critics in the process.

Hopefully that trend continues into the future, as well.