Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Pregame notes from the Orange Bowl
By ESPN.com staff
MIAMI, Fla. -- It's almost showtime here at Land Shark Stadium, where the temperature is supposed to drop to the 30s tonight and set a record-low for the city. It's already the coldest Orange Bowl in history, as the record low was 57 degrees for the game between Kansas and Virginia Tech two years ago (I was here for that one, too, go figure). Regardless, it will probably feel like spring time to Iowa, and right now, watching the crowd fill up, Iowa fans could care less if it were a blizzard here. They're already on their feet, waving their gold pom poms, and far outnumber Georgia Tech fans.
There are no lineup changes for Georgia Tech, but Jerrard Tarrant will start at corner over Rashaad Reid. I'm still waiting on Iowa's lineup changes. The officials are an SEC crew.
With Georgia Tech ranked No. 9 and Iowa No. 10, it's the first time the Jackets have played in a game involving two top 10 teams since 1999, when No. 1-ranked Florida State beat No. 10 Georgia Tech, 41-35, in Tallahassee. That helps put into perspective just how big this game is for the program, which is making its first appearance in a major bowl since 1967.
The underlying matchup we've talked about at length is Iowa's defense against Georgia Tech's offense, but there are a few intangibles at play here, too. How rusty will Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi be after missing the last two games with an ankle injury? How much progress has Georgia Tech's defense made during this long layoff? With both teams proven winners in close, fourth-quarter games, who has the edge if it's close? All questions that will soon be answered. We should know early who sets the tone in this game. If Iowa's defense doesn't figure out Paul Johnson's offense quickly, it could be a long night for the Hawkeyes.