Friends to Square Off in Orlando

Dec. 4, 2004

AP Sports Writer

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will get another chance to match wits with Nick Saban, this time with considerably more talent at his disposal.

Ferentz and his team learned Saturday night that they’ll play LSU in the 2005 Capital One Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1. That pairing came about after Auburn defeated Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference championship game, sending Auburn to the Bowl Championship Series, most likely the Sugar Bowl.

In their only game as opponents, the two former Cleveland Browns’ assistants met in 1999, when Saban’s Michigan State team hammered Iowa 49-3. That was Ferentz’s first season with the Hawkeyes.

“Thanks goodness he’s a friend of mine,” Ferentz said. “It could have been a lot worse. They could have had a hundred that day if they chose to. We weren’t ready to play that game.”

No. 12 Iowa (9-2), which shared the Big Ten championship with Michigan, would have played Auburn if Tennessee had won Saturday’s game.

“We knew we were going to have a tough ballgame,” Ferentz said. “LSU lost to Auburn by one point. Either way, it was going to be a tough draw for us.

“LSU got off to a little bit of a rocky start, just like us, and came on strong in the home stretch.”

No. 13 LSU (9-2), last season’s co-national champion, bounced back from a 45-16 loss to Georgia on Oct. 2 to win its final six regular-season games. Iowa has won seven straight after a 2-2 start that included a 44-7 loss at Arizona State.

Ferentz and Saban were assistants with the Browns in 1993 and 1994, working in offices about 15 feet apart.