FedEx Orange Bowl Preview and Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – Point Spread

FedEx Orange Bowl: No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2)(7-4 ATS) v. No. 9 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (11-2)(8-4 ATS), Jan. 5, 2010, 8pm ET, Land Shark Stadium, Miami, FL, FOX
by Evergreen of

Point Spread: Iowa +4/Georgia Tech -4
Over/Under Total: 50.5

The 2010 Orange Bowl may lack some of the storylines of the other BCS bowls, but the matchup between Iowa and Georgia Tech will be a true test of who wins when an elite defense takes on an elite offense. There is also a new school/old school element to this game as the Hawkeye’s smashmouth defensetries contain the spread flex rushing attack of the Yellow Jackets.

Vegas opened the game with Tech as 4 point favs, and the online sportsbooks have pretty much stuck with that line. Iowa is on the money line at +155 or +160 with Georgia Tech in the -175 to -185 range. The over/under total is hanging right around 50.

Iowa started the season with a 9-0 run and looked poised to make a run despite several close calls. Their luck ranout with losses against Northwestern and Ohio State as injuries to QB Ricky Stanzi andRB Adam Robinson were too much to overcome. The Hawkeyes did blank Minnesota in the conference finale to finish second in the Big Ten and now have Stanzi and Robinson back for the bowl game.

Georgia Tech earned a spot in the Orange Bowl after taking the ACC title by surviving a 39-34 shootout against Clemson. After a 30-24 loss to Georgia, Tech reeled of nine wins of their own to advance into the top-10 nationally.

The Hawkeyes strength is clearly on the defensive side of the ball where they rank 8th in pass defense, 32nd in run stopping and 10th in points allowed, giving up just 15.5 per game. The offense has struggled throughout the season as injuries to skill players from the outset have made moving the ball difficult and Iowa averages a pedestrian 23 points per contest.

Georgia Tech is the polar opposite to Iowa, possessing one of the most prolific offenses in the land, especially on the ground where they averaged a second best 307 yards per game. The Jackets finish off drives as well, averaging 35.3 points per game, good for 11th in the NCAA. Tech’s defense is average across the board but has no real weakness and will likely focus on limiting any big plays to make Iowa earn every yard.

Having Stanzi back gives Iowa a legitimate chance in this one as the QB is the unquestioned leader of the Hawkeyes and is long on moxy. Stanzi finished the year completing 56% of his passes for 2,186 yards and 15 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. Robinson led the team with 775 rushing yards and Brandon Wegher added 528 in relief, adding seven touchdowns. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is a playmaker at receiver, but Marvin McNutt has made a nice transition from quarterback to lead with seven scores. As a true pro-style offense, Tony Moeaki will be active as a check down and redzone option from the tight end spot.

If it weren’t for that Tebow guy, Tech QB Josh Nesbitt may be the best dual threat in the game. Nesbitt only hit on 47% completions, but did have ten touchdown passes while racking up nearly 1,000 yards rushing and finding paydirt 18 times. Jonathan Dwyer led the Yellow Jackets with 1,346 rushing yards and Anthony Allen is averaging an electric 9.8 yards per carry with the duo combining for 19 scores. Demaryius Thomas is about the only option Nesbitt looks to, but is a good one, grabbing 46 balls for 1,154 yards and 8 touchdowns.

The Iowa injury report is pretty clean and Georgia Tech reports DT Ben Anderson and T Phil Smith as questionable and doubtful, respectively.

If you like betting the trends, the Hawkeyes are 4-1 against the spread in the last five bowls and are are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 overall. The Yellow Jackets are also riding a hot streak, especially against top competion, going 4-1 against the spread in their last five against opponents that come in above .500 and are 8-2 ATS in the last 10 overall.

Evergreen’s Pick: Iowa was living dangerously through every week of their undefeated start. They needed two blocked field goal to beat Northern Iowa and a last second touchdown to knock off Michigan State. I don’t thing the Tech offense will simply march up and down against a very good defense, but the time of possession edge should swing greatly in Tech’s favor, making it hard for Iowa to score with limited possessions. Take the Jackets and give the points or the under is good here, too. Georgia Tech 27 Iowa 17.