Ceci n'est pas une Orange Bowl (Painting credit; Faith Te at artisticrealism.com)
It takes two to tango. Somebody forgot to tell Georgia Tech that...again. In two straight bowl seasons, a team has had roughly a month to prepare in order to "execute" (Paul Johnson's term and he didn't sound as if he meant anything related to football) the intricacies of assignment football to stop the triple option. And, in two straight bowl seasons Paul Johnson's triple option has been completely embarrassed and so has Georgia Tech. Against LSU in the Peach Bowl in 2008, the Yellow Jackets got a FG near the end of the first quarter to cut LSU's lead to 4, never got on the scoreboard again and lost 38-3. QB Josh Nesbitt was 8/25 for 150 yards and an INT. Georgia Tech ran the ball 40 times for 164 yards. Getting 314 total yards in a game isn't half bad but not doing anything with 300+ yards is pretty lousy.
Cue this season's Georgia Tech team against Iowa. If the Yellow Jackets didn't want to pass the ball, they might as well have just forfeited and let Iowa have the trophy (and saved precious hours). Instead, Paul Johnson wanted to show us on live TV what a grown man trying to put his head threw a brick wall (in this case painted black and gold) looks like. Iowa's defense played much better than LSU's did in the Peach Bowl, so Iowa winning 24-14 is deceptive. Georgia Tech only being down 3 points early in the fourth quarter was similarly devious. The Yellow Jackets had no chance short of Stanziball to be in the game. Before the first quarter was over Ricky Stanzi was responsible for three passing touchdowns (one of them for the other team-that's Stanziball). Stanzi had already put the game away with the first two TDs which put Iowa up 14-0. The pick six was just to toy with Yellow Jacket hopes and dreams. Stanzi had a perfect 1st quarter. He was 10/10 for 196 yards with 3 TDs (yes I'm counting the INT as a pass completion and a TD-it was beautiful and terrible all at the same time). Georgia Tech had 32 yards (0 passing) at halftime (seriously no typo). Nobody would score again until the 3rd quarter. The 3rd quarter itself was absurd. There were 3 total drives. Georgia Tech wasted 7:10 off the clock to start the second half to go a mere 44 yards (on 12 plays) and then miss a FG. Iowa responded with a 10 play, 59 yard, 5:33 off the clock drive which ended with a 3 pointer. Georgia Tech took the ball and went into the 4th quarter and the end zone after 77 yards and 4:47 gone from the clock. It was 17-14 in favor of Iowa at that point, but the inevitable was about to happen. Iowa punted inside of the Georgia Tech 20 and on the first play, Josh Nesbitt threw an INT. He had been a glorious 1/3 for 11 yards at that point in the 4th quarter. Nesbitt finished the game 2/9 for 12 yards and 1 INT. That's right, he threw the ball only one more time (9) than he had completions (8) when Jackets got ran over in Atlanta in 2008. Recipe for success against a good rush defense who was clearly ready for the triple option? Paul Johnson thought so. Georgia Tech finished the game with 155 total yards. Iowa played well on both sides of the ball and recorded 403 total yards. Ricky Stanzi was pretty close to perfect throwing the ball if you include the INT, dropped passes (because of WR injury or not), and passes that were caught out of bounds. However, even if you go by the rule book, Stanzi was 17/29 for 231 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. That's not too bad. Stanzi also had a big 3rd down run in the 4th quarter which suggested that I say something nice about Terrelle Pryor. Nobody is saying that Ricky Stanzi is a speedster, but on that 3rd and 6 he had all-ACC DE Derrick Morgan chasing him and Stanzi got away. You might recall Stanzi injured an ankle in the Northwestern game and needed surgery and this was his first game back. Who knows how far Pryor would have ran on that play or if he would have been stopped. Georgia Tech hasn't really played defense since about mid-November against Duke. It showed.
Iowa dominated this game throughly but it was well short of "thriller" status (sorry Dick Stockton). The Orange Bowl has to rank higher than the Fiesta Bowl because at least one team came to play (Iowa). The Hawkeyes needed to score more points to turn this one into the laugher that the Sugar Bowl was. Iowa left some points on the field but can still be happy with this win, an important one to be sure, for their program. This win also helps the Big 10 out and makes the conference look good. Maybe now the conference can also get that 12th team and something can be done about that name. For Georgia Tech, it's time to stop the bleeding. This was their 5th straight bowl loss. The Jackets last bowl win came in 2004 when they won the Champs Sports Bowl and Humanitarian Bowl in the same calendar year. Chan Gailey was the coach in those days and Georgia Tech scored 103 points in those two games and gave up 24. In their last two bowl games, Georgia Tech has given up 62 points and only scored 17.
The success of the Hawkeyes lifted my bowl picks to 6-11. Lincoln is 10-3. Kudos to FOX for making their last BCS game ever (please world of TV never let FOX broadcast college football again somewhere down the road) a little more watchable than the Fiesta Bowl. However, good riddance FOX.
Bowl Challenge Standings
Sun Belt 1-0 1.000 (Dwight Dasher swagger override) Pt. differential: 10
Independents 1-0 1.000 Pt. differential: 22
MWC 4-1 .800 Pt. differential: 34 (oh what could have been)
Big East 4-2 .667 Pt. differential: 5
Big 10 4-3 .571 Pt. differential: 13
Big 12 4-3 .571 Pt. differential: -12
SEC 5-4 .555 Pt. differential: 25
WAC 2-2 .500 Pt. differential: -34
ACC 3-4 .429 Pt. differential: 14
C-USA 2-4 .333 Pt. differential: -22
Pac 10 2-5 .286 Pt. differential: -60
MAC 0-4 .000 Pt. differential: -28