In what was likely his last game in an Iowa Hawkeyes uniform, Shonn Greene capped off the 2008 season fittingly with three touchdowns and yet another 100 yard performance. Greene and the Hawkeyes dominated South Carolina in every part of the game on Thursday, leading them into 2009 headed in the right direction.
Maybe it was the vigorous pre-bowl practices, maybe it was the momentum, but for one reason or another, Iowa showed up to play and South Carolina didn't. The Hawkeyes played with heart and passion, while the Gamecocks spent most of their time either giving the ball away or committing a penalty.
This clearly wasn't a typical Steve Spurrier high-scoring offensive team. As a Hawkeye fan, this was the first time I've seen the Gamecocks play this year, and boy this was not what I expected. I expected a few turnovers, but five? I expected a good defense, not the one out there today.
This is just simply not an elite caliber team, and by the looks of the near future, it doesn't seem like it will be soon.
This game was a blowout from the start. Iowa opened the game with a long touchdown drive.
South Carolina converted to a 4-3 defense yesterday to try to stop Shonn Greene. It worked for a short time, but the main problem was it could open up holes in the passing game. This is exactly what happened as Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi hit tight end Brandon Meyers to convert three first downs on the drive and eventually a six-yard touchdown pass to Trey Stross.
The woes had hardly started for South Carolina though. Already down 7-0, South Carolina started their next drive with a -3 yard rush against a tough Hawkeye run defense. Then, Stephen Garcia was picked off by Tyler Sash, one of Sash's two interceptions on the day. Iowa then brought that back for a touchdown.
The next drive, Garcia fumbled, and Bradley Fletcher picked him off in the endzone on the following possession. Garcia ended the day with three interceptions and a fumble. The turnovers led to a 21-0 halftime lead for Iowa.
Spurrier opted to change quarterbacks and go with the more experienced Chris Smelley. Although Smelley did fare better, with no interceptions, but his 16-for-31 passing was less than impressive.
The Gamecocks fumbled on their first play of the second half. Later in the game, a field goal was called off because of a penalty and was missed from five more yards.
On the other hand, Iowa played extremely well all throughout the game. Stanzi looks like he has finally matured as a quarterback. He needs to cut down on his interceptions, his two today (one a tipped pass at the line), weren't that crucial, but overall, he has become a much smarter quarterback.
The defense, once again played outstanding. Defensive linemen Mitch King and Matt Kroul ended their careers on a high note. Meanwhile many young rising stars such as freshman Tyler Sash, sophomore Amari Speivey, and juniors Pat Angerer and AJ Edds showed us a glimpse of a bright future for the Iowa defense.
And now to the star of the show; Shonn Greene. Greene has most likely played his last game for Iowa and will probably head for the NFL Draft next year. Greene rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns, making him the only running back in college football history to rush for at least 100 yards in 13 straight games.
Though Greene will likely head to the NFL, Jewel Hampton showed that he is a more-than-capable replacement. He bounced off tacklers today just like Greene does, and while he may not be as big as Greene, he is certainly a good running back who has three more years to grow.
After beating up on the Gamecocks for three hours, Iowa came away with a 31-10 victory.
Iowa is destined for a spot in the final AP Top 25 rankings and will likely be ranked in the top 20 of the 2009 preseason rankings. Some are even putting the Hawkeyes in the mix for a Big Ten title.
It seems that the Hawkeyes of the mid-2000's are back and the 2009 Outback Bowl is certainly an indication of good things to come for this storied Iowa program.