2008 Outback Bowl Preview
#20 Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) vs. South Carolina (7-5, 4-4 SEC)
January 1st @ 11:00 AM (EST) – ESPN – Tampa, Florida - Buy Outback Bowl tickets
The Outback Bowl features two teams going in dramatically different directions. Iowa is probably the best four loss team in the country and has won five of the last six games down the stretch. Furthermore, Iowa’s four losses have come by 12 total points. Meanwhile, South Carolina was blown out in their last two games and were beaten by a touchdown or more all five of their losses.
South Carolina came into the season looking to redeem themselves after a dismal 6-6 effort in 2007. Promise seemed to be fulfilled after opening up with a 34-0 victory over NC State but the Gamecocks then lost their next two games and another season went by without South Carolina’s offense looking like Steve Spurrier was in charge. South Carolina played very solid defense but couldn’t overcome the offense’s ineptitude and gave up 87 points in the final two games. While South Carolina still has a solid defense, their running game averages under 100 yards per game and their quarterbacks have combined for 24 interceptions. That kind of unspectacular production added up to a measly 22 points per game on offense.
Iowa also came into the year looking for redemption after a 6-6 year and a myriad of off-field problems. Their turnaround came in the form of tailback Shon Greene, who was out of football last year after flunking out of school. While Iowa was slogging through that six win run, Greene was working in a grocery store. He ran for over 100 yards in every game this year (the only tailback to do so) and totaled over 1,700 yards and 17 Touchdowns. The Hawkeyes also received solid play at the quarterback position from sophomore Ricky Stanzi, who only turned the ball over three times in the second half of the season. Iowa’s defense was also quite stout, allowing just over 13 points per game. The Hawkeyes rebounded well from an early three game losing streak and their season-ending run included a 24-23 win over Penn State which kept the Nittany Lions out of the National Title Game.
The Hawkeyes are the undeniable favorites going into this game. South Carolina is averaging less than 22 points per game on offense while Iowa has been very solid defensively at just over 13 points allowed per game. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes are scoring over 30 points per game while South Carolina has allowed over 20 points per game on defense. Both trends favor Iowa. Furthermore, South Carolina doesn’t really do anything very well on offense while Iowa is undeniably excellent at running the football. With two talented defenses on the field, the team which can execute best will be very good position to win and that favors the Hawkeyes. Finally, Iowa has been on an absolute roll finishing up while South Carolina was manhandled to close out the season. This all makes me believe that Iowa is going to be able to run the football and score some points while South Carolina is going to struggle to get anything consistent going on offense all game. I expect that Iowa will defeat South Carolina to cap off an excellent turnaround season.
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