Higher stakes do not always equate to higher entertainment levels. The problem is that people seem less interested in competition these days, and more interested in what is at stake. Think about the BCS games slated for this season: the National Championship (Texas versus Alabama), the Fiesta Bowl (two unbeaten BCS party crashers), the Sugar Bowl (the used-to-be number one team versus the Brian Kelly-less, but no less undefeated, Cincinnati Bearcats), the Rose Bowl (Big Ten versus Pac-10 Champs), and then there is the Fed Ex
With all of the drama, excitement, and headlines based on what is at stake in those other bowls, people seem to have lost sight of the Orange Bowl. The matchup between ACC Champion Georgia Tech and At-Large Iowa takes place on January 5th (I bet you didn’t even know it was on that day) has been generally overlooked by just about everyone in the college football world. Heed my words, you are going to be very disappointed if you overlook what could very well be the most entertaining game of the entire Bowl Championship Series.
I know that is a bold statement to make, but consider the two teams’ respective performances over the course of the 2009 season.
From the ACC, Georgia Tech boasts one of the nation’s most productive offenses. The Yellow Jackets own the second best rushing attack in the nation, averaging more than 300 yards per game on the ground behind junior running back Jonathan Dwyer, who completed his second consecutive season of rushing for more than 1,300 yards. Dwyer was not the only offensive star for the Jackets in 2009, either, as he was one of FIVE players to be named to the ACC’s all-conference first team. With Dwyer, quarterback Josh Nesbitt, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, and linemen Sean Bedford and Cord Howard earned all-ACC honors for their contributions to a team that was one of the highest scoring in the nation.
As for the Iowa Hawkeyes, the conversation begins with one of the stingiest defenses in the country. With a front seven that includes Broderick Binns, Pat Angerer, and Adrian Clayborn, the Hawkeyes allowed only 15.5 points per game, tenth best in the nation. Combined with a never-say-die offense that will once again be led by senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who makes his return to the field since suffering an ankle injury during an upset loss against Northwestern, Iowa has been one of the nation’s most exciting teams all season.
Even IF Georgia Tech’s offense is able to score on Iowa’s vaunted defensive interior, Iowa is no stranger to playing from behind. Having come back from behind in nearly every one of their games this season, it is unwise to count the Hawkeyes out of the game.
The Orange Bowl may not bring the headlines that the national championship will bring, and it may not feature any undefeated programs. However, it WILL feature a top-ten matchup pitting one of the nation’s top offenses against one of its best defenses. On January 5th, in Miami, we will FINALLY be able to answer the age old question – “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?”