The Battle of the Birds will take place in the Outback Bowl this year.
Lots of us probably don't know a whole lot about Iowa, so I thought we should take a closer look at this team. Plus, I've apparently angered the folks at Black Heart Gold Pants for not writing enough about their beloved team, and we can't have that.
As you'll see, this team will be a stiff test for us.
The Hawkeyes' starting QB is Ricky Stanzi. Although Iowa doesn't throw the ball a whole lot, Stanzi has been a steady producer when they do. His 13-7 TD-INT ratio may not be in Tim Tebow territory, but it's sure a lot better than what we've had to endure over the past few weeks.
Iowa boasts one of the most productive RBs in the country in Shonn Greene. Greene has rushed over 1700 yards and averages over six ypc. He'll be Iowa's biggest offensive weapon. The Hawkeyes also occasionally rotate in Jewel Hampton, who has over 400 yards on the season.
Iowa's two most productive receivers are Darrell Johnson-Koulianos and Andy Brodell. Johnston is the smaller, speedier player while Brodell provides a bigger target.
The Hawkeyes' line can't be too bad if they have a back with over 1700 yards. Expect tough, well-coached play out of the guys up front.
In the first half of the year, the Hawkeyes won (and lost a few) close games by playing great defense and enough offense to get by. Since they beat Indiana 45-9, though, they've been a better team offensively. Obviously, their attack centers around pounding the ball between the tackles with their stocky, shifty RB Greene. However, this isn't a one-dimensional offense; these guys are perfectly capable of playing through the air, as well.
On the surface, the Gamecocks match up fairly well against this offense. We've had trouble against the run over the past couple of games, but our problem has been containing speedy backs like Percy Harvin and CJ Spiller on the edges. Greene more resembles LSU's Charles Scott, a back we had moderate success against. What worries me, though, is that Iowa's power game will wear us down over the course of the day, especially if our offense can't stay on the field for extended periods of time. Moreover, while I'm not particularly worried about how our secondary matches up against their passing game, I also think they'll find the short field open if they can get Greene going. All in all, I could see this being a team that looks fairly unassuming on offense for most of the day but sticks a couple of late TDs on us if we wear out or lose focus.
Stay tuned for info on the Hawkeyes defense tomorrow.