Savor Historic Orange Bowl Win Now, Plenty of Time To Look Ahead Later

Michael MaxwellCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05:  (L-R) Adrian Clayborn #94 and head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrate 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 Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Iowa notched its first ever Bowl Championship Series bowl win Tuesday night in frigid Miami.  It was the first so-called “major” bowl win for Iowa since Forest Evashevski’s crew knocked off California in the 1959 Rose Bowl. 

I know it is only natural to think about what this win means for the 2010 season—it undoubtedly will provide critical momentum towards next year.  However, for the time being, lets respectfully take some time to really appreciate what these 2009 Hawkeyes have accomplished and try to put it in some perspective.

It is only the second 11 win season in the history of the program and first since 2002.  When the final Associated Press and Coaches Polls come out at the end of the week, Iowa is almost assured of its highest final ranking since finishing No. 3 in 1960.  Iowa finished No. 8 in the final polls in 2002, 2003, and 2004, which has been their highest final ranking since 1960.

More important than the total number of wins notched this year has been the manner in which they came.  Iowa made stunning 4th quarter comebacks seem almost routine. 

Right up until the devastating home loss to Northwestern, it seemed that each week’s heroics topped the week before.  The team recovered from the two close losses in early November with a shutout of rival Minnesota in the last week of the regular season, which set up the Orange Bowl showdown with the vaunted Georgia Tech triple option offence.

Against Georgia Tech, the Iowa defense proved without a doubt that it was defense that wins championships.  Adrian Clayborn, Pat Angerer, A.J. Edds, and crew were all over the field.  Defensive coordinator Norm Parker certainly made the most of the five weeks he had to prepare for this unconventional attack.

Georgia Tech’s high octane rushing attack couldn’t get out of neutral for most of the game.  One first down in the first half is downright insane.  While the Yellow Jackets had not punted since mid November, they went 3-and-out in their first four possessions.  In the end, the Georgia Tech passing attack could muster a measly 11 yards through the air!

Meanwhile, Ricky Stanzi played the part he played all year.  He made just enough plays to notch his 10th win as starting quarterback this year.  Stanzi finished 17 for 29 for 231 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception that was returned for a Tech touchdown. 

Freshmen Brandon Wegher chipped in 113 yards on 16 carries, including the final touchdown that put the game on ice for Iowa.  This rushing performance is tops in all of the BCS bowl games played to date.

With the Orange Bowl win, Iowa now has more BCS bowl wins (one) than a tradition-rich Notre Dame program (zero).  Going into the 2010 BCS Title Game to be played Thursday night, Alabama also has a grand total of zero BCS bowl wins.  The one BCS win for Iowa now equals the total number of BCS bowl wins for historical powers Michigan, Penn State, Florida State, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech. 

It is about time that Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa program be given their due.  The numbers above tell the story.  Over the last ten years, the Iowa program has been at least as successful, if not more so, than many of the legendary schools in the history of college football.

Surely the future is bright for the Iowa football program.  But, note that we have 240 more days until kickoff of the 2010 season!  I think this will allow for more than ample time to dissect and handicap the 2010 Big Ten and dare I say, National Title picture in the weeks and months to come. 

Until then, lets savor every last second of this historic 2009 season and memorable Orange Bowl triumph.