Jan. 1, 2009
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TAMPA, Fla. — A defense that forced five turnovers, an offense that opened holes for an MVP running back who gained 121 yards and scored three touchdowns and special team’s play that produced a field goal and out-performed the top kickoff coverage team in the Southeastern Conference equaled a 31-10 victory by the University of Iowa over South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl this afternoon inside Raymond James Stadium.
It marked the fourth time in the last seven seasons that Iowa (9-4 overall) finished a season with nine or more victories. South Carolina retires 7-6. It is also the 12th time in school history that the Hawkeyes have won nine or more games in a season.
“I’m certainly very, very proud of our football team,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The credit goes to our players…they’ve done a fantastic job. The staff did a good job getting our guys prepared. We hoped we could execute and we did. The defense played hard and we were sound fundamentally.”
UI running back Shonn Greene, the game’s most valuable player, ran for 121 yards on 29 carries and scored three times, giving him a school-record tying 120 points this season. Freshman Jewel Hampton spelled the Doak Walker Award-winner (and soon to be NFL draft pick) and added 54 yards on the ground in 12 attempts. Iowa’s balanced offense produced 181 rushing yards and 147 through the air behind quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who completed 13 of 19 with one touchdown. After the game, Greene informed Ferentz that he would forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
“I’m probably prouder of the way he’s handled his acclaim,” Ferentz said. “It’s a great story and we had a team of great stories.”
The five turnovers is the most for a Hawkeye defense in several seasons.
“We threw it right to them, then we fumbled right to them and got behind early,” South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said. “I like the way Iowa plays. They’re a good team. Coach Ferentz and his guys did a good job. Give Iowa credit for kicking our tails today. We didn’t want to get behind early, which we did.”
“We came out ready to play and that was great to see,” Ferentz said. “Certainly getting the turnovers was helpful.”
“I’m certainly very, very proud of our football team. The credit goes to our players…they’ve done a fantastic job. The staff did a good job getting our guys prepared. We hoped we could execute and we did. The defense played hard and we were sound fundamentally.”
UI head football coach
Iowa posted 328 total yards, held an advantage of 11:48 in possession time, picked up 22 first downs and had 50 fewer penalty yards than the Gamecocks. The Hawkeyes converted 8 of 12 three-down attemnpts. A bulk of South Carolina’s 313 total yards came with the outcome already decided.
While Greene demanded most of the attention from South Carolina’s stingy defense on the opening possession, it was the accurate arm of Stanzi and the sure hands of an unsung group of Hawkeye receivers that gave Iowa a 7-0 lead with 7:39 left in the first quarter. The Hawkeyes converted three times on third down — all passes from Stanzi to tight end Brandon Myers for 11, 17 and 11 yards. The scoring toss was from 6 yards to Trey Stross, who stretched the ball just inside the pylon in the Northeast corner of the end zone. Daniel Murray added his 11th PAT kick of the season.
Interceptions are the Achilles’ heel of the Gamecock offense and it took two plays for Iowa — and strong safety Tyler Sash — to tack No. 25 onto the South Carolina total this season (No. 6 for quarterback Stephen Garcia). Sash returned the ball 29 yards to the Gamecock 18 and five plays later, Greene bulled in from a yard for his school-record 18th rushing touchdown of the season. Murray’s PAT kick gave the Hawkeyes a 14-0 lead with 4:41 left in the first quarter.
For the second consecutive drive, the second play of the series led to a South Carolina turnover. On second-and-7, Garcia scrambled out of the pocket, had the ball ripped away by UI defensive tackle Christian Ballard and recovered by A.J. Edds at the South Carolina 40. The Gamecock defense held Iowa to three yards on four plays before Murray was wide right on a 45-yard field goal attempt.
Hawkeye cornerback Bradley Fletcher collected his third interception of the season (and fifth of his career) on South Carolina’s first mistake-riddled drive of the second quarter. The Gamecocks drove to the Iowa 25, but a personal foul and procedure penalty pushed them into a first-and-30 situation. On second-and-22, Garcia tried to connect with an isolated Jason Barnes down the right sideline, but Fletcher intercepted the pass in the end zone. Iowa’s offense — which gained 84 yards in the first quarter — really began to loosen. Stanzi completed a 4-yard pass to Brett Morse, Greene rushed for eight yards and Stanzi hooked up with a wide-open Moeaki for 39 yards that took the ball to the Gamecock 29. Greene’s number was called the next four times for 17 yards before Stanzi rolled out, picked up a block from Allen Reisner and was stopped just shy of the end zone on a play ruled a touchdown on the field before it was overturned. That just delayed the inevitable — rushing touchdown No. 19 on the season for Greene, who capped the 9-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Murray’s PAT gave the Hawkeyes a 21-0 lead with 8:09 left in the half.
Sash interception No. 2 of the half was No. 3 for Garcia. Then things turned a bit bizarre. Sash eluded Gamecocks and returned the ball 45 yards deep into South Carolina territory before the ball was punched out from behind and recovered by UI linebacker Jeremiha Hunter at the Gamecock 26. On first down, Stanzi’s intended pass to Moeaki was picked off in the end zone by Chris Culliver.
“We threw it right to them, then we fumbled right to them and got behind early. I like the way Iowa plays. They’re a good team. Coach Ferentz and his guys did a good job. Give Iowa credit for kicking our tails today. We didn’t want to get behind early, which we did.”
South Carolina head coach
A few statistics stood out during the six-turnover first half. The Hawkeyes held the ball 17:20, gained 196 yards and converted 5 of 6 third downs. They also scored on all three Red Zone chances. South Carolina committed four penalties for 50 yards, while Iowa was whistled just once for five yards.
The Gamecocks switched quarterbacks to start the third quarter, but it didn’t bring an immediate end to the turnovers. On the first play of the second half, Chris Smelley completed a 9-yard pass to Moe Brown, who had the ball jarred out by Fletcher and recovered by Edds on the South Carolina 43.
Iowa went to immediately back to Greene, who carried five straight times for 26 yards, before tagging off to Hampton. Hampton’s first rush went for 13 yard to the Gamecock 4. He appeared destined for the end zone on his second carry. After running over South Carolina’s Eric Norwood, Hampton spun away and his knee touched down before fumbling over to the Gamecocks. Greene was stopped short twice before Murray kicked an 18-yard field goal, giving Iowa a 24-0 lead.
Another penalty cost the Gamecocks three points with just over five minutes left in the third quarter. Kicker Ryan Succop made a 46-yard field, but those points were pulled off the board because of an illegal formation by South Carolina. Succop was well short on the ensuing 51-yard attempt.
Nine plays and 66 yards later, the Hawkeyes upped their advantage to 31-0. Greene, who rushed four times in the series, ran in from 11 yards directly in front of a section of fans in black and gold with :04 left in the quarter. It was Greene’s third touchdown of the day and gave him 121 rushing yards — the 13th consecutive time he rushed for more than 100 yards in a game. It was a fitting final carry as a Hawkeye.
“I wanted to get the win for the team,” Greene said. “I don’t think there’s a lot more I could do here, so I figure I’ll try my chances in the NFL.”
Iowa had scored 86 straight points over the last seven-plus quarters before South Carolina got on the board with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Smelley to Jared Cook with 13:35 left in the game. The 6-play Gamecock drive covered 68 yards.
Succop added a 48-yard field goal with 2:02 remaining, a point where the majority of red left in the stadium belonged to the Buccaneer-colored seats.
“Thirty-one to 10 looks better than 31-7 in the long run,” Spurrier said.