Dec. 25, 2009
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following first appeared in the Dec. 21 edition of the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, a free daily e-newsletter. For more information about the UI’s OSR, click HERE.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Preparing to play Atlantic Coast Conference football champion Georgia Tech on, say, Oct. 17, is much different than preparing to play the Yellow Jackets on Jan. 5. According to University of Iowa offensive most valuable player Ricky Stanzi, the Hawkeyes will flip back to their notes from a successful Outback Bowl a year ago.
“As a team, we’re keeping the same mentality that we had last bowl game,” Stanzi said. “Bowl games are different than week-to-week games. It’s not like preparing for the Northwestern or Michigan game.”
Stanzi didn’t use the word distraction when referring to the bowl environment, but it certainly won’t be the same as getting ready to play a S! aturday afternoon tilt inside Kinnick Stadium.
“There’s a different atmosphere down in Miami. Different things will be going on around you,” Stanzi said. “We have to be focused with everything we do, day-in and day-out when we’re down at a different location. We’re trying to practice. Some people go down for a vacation; we have an actual ball game to get ready for. If we can keep that in mind, if we can keep that focus throughout the bowl trip, the preparation and everything else will take care of itself.”
With Stanzi under center, the Hawkeyes have won six consecutive games (and averaged 29.5 points) away from Iowa City, including a 31-10 victory over South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl. Among those unable to hold serve on its home field against the Hawkeyes are Minnesota (55-0 on Nov. 22, 2008), Iowa State (35-3 on Sept. 12, 2009), Penn State (21-10 on Sept. 26), Wisconsin (20-10 on Oct. 17) and MichiganState (15-13 on Oct. 24).
Iowa has also won 13 consecutive times with Stanzi as the starting quarterback, if you throw out a 17-10 loss to Northwestern on Nov. 7. In that game, the Hawkeyes led 10-0 at the start of the second quarter when Stanzi went down with a regular-season-ending high-ankle sprain. During the first 9 games this season, Stanzi completed 56 percent of his passes for 2,186 yards and 15 touchdowns – an average of 218.6 passing yards per outing. The junior from Mentor, Ohio, received the Roy J. Carver offensive most valuable player award Dec. 12.
“I’m very proud to take that honor. I accepted it on behalf of the offense. It’s not just one player on the offense that’s doing it. There are 10 other guys out there with me. Without all those other guys, not one of us would make anything happen. We all need to be together as a team and that’! s one of the things coach ( Kirk Ferentz) preaches all the time. When we can do that as an offense, we seem to have our most success.”
“That’s a tremendous honor to be voted on by your teammates in that regard and to be looked at as the MVP of the offense,” Stanzi said. “I’m very proud to take that honor. I accepted it on behalf of the offense. It’s not just one player on the offense that’s doing it. There are 10 other guys out there with me. Without all those other guys, not one of us would make anything happen. We all need to be together as a team and that’! s one of the things coach (Kirk Ferentz) preaches all the time. When we can do that as an offense, we seem to have our most success.”
The 10th-rated Hawkeyes and No. 9 Georgia Tech will meet for the first time ever in the FedEx Orange Bowl. Iowa’s scoring defense ranks 10th in the Football Bowl Subdivision (15.5 points per game); the Yellow Jackets are second in the country with 307.2 rushing yards per game.