IOWA CITY, Iowa - Throughout the season, Hawkeyeinsider.com looked at how Iowa stacked up in the Big Ten and nationally based on statistics. We've come back to take a look at the Orange Bowl match-up between Iowa and Georgia Tech from a statistical standpoint.
A very basic analysis would say that it's the speed of the ACC versus the power of the Big Ten. This is the lazy person's insight pretty much any time a Big Ten team plays in a bowl game.
One would be getting warmer suggesting it will come down to Iowa's defense against the Yellow Jackets' new-age, triple-option, rushing offense on one side. The other would be an inconsistent Hawkeye offensive attack up against a pretty generous Georgia Tech defense.
While statistics don't tell the whole story, they give insight on trends and tendencies. So, how does the Orange Bowl look from the numbers?
-To no one's surprise, Georgia Tech ranks second in the country in rushing yards per game (307.15). Nevada tops the charts at 362.25. The Hawkeyes check in at 103rd with 109.42.
Point - As an Iowa fan, you say, that's OK. The Hawkeyes boast one of the top defenses in the country. In many statistics, you would be right.
-The bottom line and the most important stat to the Iowa coaches is points allowed per game (remember, bend but don‘t break). The Hawkeyes rank 10th nationally in this category, allowing a paltry 15.50 a contest. The Yellow Jackets rank 58th in scoring defense at 24.85.
Point - Iowa has proven to be better against the pass than the run this season.
-The Hawkeyes rank fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense (91.93), another important stat to the coaches. However, this isn't a great Iowa team against the run compared to years past. It ranks 33rd at 122 a game, and allowed Ohio State 229, although that came on 51 carries.
Point - History says that Iowa performers well against one-dimensional offenses, especially when coordinator Norm Parker has time to prepare. So, can the Yellow Jackets keep Iowa honest with the pass?
-Tech averages 135.54 passing yards a game, good for 115th in the country. Iowa ranks 54th at 221.53.
-The interesting statistical angle on Tech's passing game is that quarterback Josh Nesbitt leads the ACC in passing efficiency (156.78), meaning when he throws, he does it pretty well. His main target is DeMaryius Thomas, who rates 16th in the country 88.77 yards per game.
-Nesbitt also ranks 62nd nationally with 76.23 rushing yards per outing. His main running back, Jonathan Dwyer, is 24th in the country at 103.54.
-Jerrard Tarrant is a weapon in the return game for the Yellow Jackets. He ranks 12th in America at 14.32 per punt return.
-On defense, Derrick Morgan leads the ACC and ranks 6th nationally .96 sacks per contest. His 1.38 tackles for loss average rates 18th in the country.
Point - Morgan is the bright spot on a pretty average defense, however. His match-up with LT Bryan Bulaga, the Big Ten's offensive lineman of the year, will be a key one.
-The Jackets rank 58th in the country in allowing 24.85 yards per game, 67th in rushing defense (150.08), and 85th in pass efficiency defense (135.85). They also struggle to pressure the quarterback, rating 72nd in sacks at 1.77 per outing.
Point - A healthy and sharp Rick Stanzi with good protection should be able to move the ball through the air against Tech.
Point - Iowa's answer for Morgan is Adrian Clayborn.
-Clayborn ranks 20th nationally with .79 sacks per game, while checking in at 14th with 1.50 tackles for loss.
Point - Tech does not have a Pat Angerer.
-Angerer ranks fifth nationally in tackles at 11.25 per game from his linebacker position.
-Iowa leads Georgia Tech in takeaways, 29-24, but the Yellow Jackets have taken better care of the football. The Hawkeyes' 26 turnovers are nine more than the 17 by Tech. As a result, the Jackets are 25th in turnover margin nationally, while the Hawks are 46th.