NCF Nation: Outback Bowl 09
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
WHO TO WATCH: How ironic that South Carolina ends this season in Tampa, Fla., the hometown of redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen Garcia, whose season has very much mirrored that of the entire team. He's had his ups and had his downs. There were times when his dedication was called into question by South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and times when he looked like the top-flight quarterback he was supposed to be when the Gamecocks signed him. Here's his chance to prove that he's indeed South Carolina's quarterback of the future. Whatever he does, he needs to stay away from interceptions. South Carolina has thrown 24 interceptions, second most in the nation. Iowa has intercepted 20 passes, tied for seventh nationally.
WHAT TO WATCH: The Gamecocks are tweaking their defense and going from a 4-2-5 alignment to a more traditional 4-3 scheme for this game. Part of the move is out of necessity with safety Emanuel Cook academically ineligible for this game. But the other part is that South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson wants to get as many guys near the line of scrimmage as he can to slow down Iowa tailback Shonn Greene, who won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back this season. This is a game where the Gamecocks' size at linebacker with Jasper Brinkley in the middle and Eric Norwood on the outside should come in handy.
WHY TO WATCH: To quote the Head Ball Coach, the Gamecocks haven't done a whole lot to brag about this season. Their only win over an FBS team that ended the season with a winning record was against Ole Miss back on Oct. 4. Making matters worse, they were embarrassed in their last two games against Florida and Clemson. So this is an opportunity to right the ship a little bit heading into what may be Spurrier's most important offseason yet at South Carolina. If the Gamecocks lose five or six games again in 2009, he may well take his visor full time to the golf course.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's a big day for the Big Ten, and things begin this morning with the Outback Bowl matchup between Iowa (8-4) and South Carolina (7-5) in Tampa (ESPN, 11 a.m. ET). This might be the Big Ten's best chance at a bowl win. Here's a quick look at the matchup.
WHO TO WATCH: Big Ten fans are familiar with Shonn Greene, but the rest of the country likely will be getting its first look at the Doak Walker Award winner. This also could be the final chance to see Greene in college, as the Iowa junior running back is a strong candidate to enter the NFL draft a year early. No defense has come close to stopping Greene, who eclipsed 100 rushing yards in every regular-season contest. South Carolina certainly will have its hands full with him.
WHAT TO WATCH: Head coaches Kirk Ferentz and Steve Spurrier are a contrast in style and personality. It will be interesting to see the two match wits in a bowl game. Ferentz will lean on two improved lines, the power run game and a playmaking defense. Spurrier has taken heat for South Carolina's inconsistent offense this season, and he might try to shake up the play-calling to spark quarterback Stephen Garcia.
WHY TO WATCH: The game features the only Big Ten bowl favorite and has a must-win quality not only for Iowa, but the beleaguered conference. Iowa is arguably the Big Ten's hottest team, winning five of its final six regular-season games. A win likely puts the Hawkeyes in the Top 25 and springboards them into a promising 2009 season.