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The College Football Notebook


January 6, 2010 10:59 AM

Iowa's Defense Steps Up

Iowa's defense stepped it up and turned in a big-time performance on the national stage. Even those of us who've liked the Hawkeyes all the way back to the preseason felt that Georgia Tech would be able to run the football. But not only was the Jacket running game effectively shut down--no, 172 yards isn't bad on its face, but when you consider that Tech runs the ball virtually every snap it makes it look a little worse--but Iowa's running game was solid. Brandon Wegher rushed for 113 yards, including key runs on the clinching drive that ended with him in the end zone to make it 24-14 with less than two minutes to play.

Ricky Stanzi made the signature mistake--throwing a pick-six in the first half--but he and his coaches showed why they've been able to overcome that so many times this year. On Iowa's next possession, Stanzi threw a completion right back to the same spot. Getting right back on the horse showed that the Iowa staff was unwilling to let one mistake turn into more and they stuck with their plan. That single play call persuaded me that the "charmed life" I referred to Stanzi living in the preview below, perhaps wasn't so charmed. He and his coaches might just be tough enough to overcome more mistakes than the average passer.

Georgia Tech started to click in the second half, but a missed field goal on the first possession after intermission really sat up on the board through the remainder of the game. And they just couldn't hit the big play in the passing game. Option teams depend on the occassional deep strike to keep defenses honest and Josh Nesbitt just couldn't find anybody and eventually he threw a big interception deep in his own territory in the fourth quarter.

Congratulations to Kirk Ferentz. He was another coach that the fan base was starting to rumble about a couple years ago when he hit a little bump on the road. Today he's back on top and has the biggest Iowa victory in my lifetime under his belt. Yet the latest lesson to impatient fans and adminstrators--if you've got guy who's shown he can win and is consistent, stick with him. Rough patches happen to everyone (a review of the careers of even the game's best coaches will reveal that), but don't make them into more than they are. And congratulations to Tech's Paul Johnson, who guided his team to its first ACC title in 19 years.

On a final note, I was surprised Kool & The Gang was the halftime performance. I know I'm generally out of it on pop music (I listen to Irish, modern country and the Rat Pack), but is Kool & The Gang still popular? They were cranking out Celebration and Joanna when I was in junior high and I haven't heard anything new since then. Have they joined option football in being back in vogue now?

I'm going to pass on covering the Central Michigan-Troy game tonight. Check over at The College Basketball Notebook later today for some updates on early conference play. And be sure to stop back here early tomorrow morning for the preview of the big one.

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