College Football

Outback Throwback: Iowa did everything it wanted to do against South Carolina in 2009


Iowa running back Shonn Greene jumps up after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., Jan. 1, 2009.  (The Gazette)
Iowa running back Shonn Greene jumps up after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., Jan. 1, 2009. (The Gazette)

Monday will mark Iowa’s fifth Outback Bowl appearance since 2004. This week, we’re taking a look back at the Hawkeyes’ first four Outback games, continuing today with 2009.

Kirk Ferentz has compared this Iowa football season to 2008 at times this year, and it’s easy to see the parallels. The final step would be an Outback Bowl victory.

After a prominent bowl appearance (2008: Orange, 2016: Rose) both teams entered the season with high expectations, only to suffer four regular season losses.

But both regular seasons ended triumphently. The 2008 team beat then-No. 3 Penn State at home to start a three-game winning streak and the 2016 team handed then-No. 3 Michigan its first loss to begin three consecutive victories.

After wins over Purdue and Minnesota to end the 2008 season, the Hawkeyes blasted South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl, leading 31-0 at one point before landing on a 31-10 win after a couple of garbage-time Gamecock scores.

The MVP

Iowa running back Shonn Greene’s Doak Walker award-winning season was capped with a 132-yard, three-TD performance. He declared for the NFL Draft afterward, following a breakout season in which he ran for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The Story

Here's Marc Morehouse's story that ran on The Gazette's sports front the next day.

There was nothing left to prove here.

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Shonn Greene punched in for one blazing, brilliant season and so now he’s turning pro. Thursday’s Outback Bowl fell into nothing-to-prove mode after about the first 10 minutes.

 

The Hawkeyes (9-4) punched in for maybe one and a half blazing, brilliant quarters and beat the Gamecock decals off the helmets of a disinterested, undisciplined and just plain awful South Carolina (7-6) outfit.

Greene was named the game’s MVP after rushing for 121 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Hawkeyes turn five Carolina turnovers into 17 points in a 31-10 victory before 55,117 mostly Iowa fans at Raymond James Stadium.

Greene is gone; that’s the big news. He announced his decision in interviews as he walked off the field.

An NFL scout who attended an Iowa practice here told Hawkeye people he didn’t see Greene falling past the 20th pick in April’s NFL draft. That’s a contract in the five-year, $12 million range with $7 million guaranteed.

That’s just sound, sound logic.

“I didn’t know,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, who was the first to touch the Outback Bowl trophy, which, with the Super Bowl in town this year, looked a lot like the Vince Lombardi Trophy only with a boomerang stuck on it. “He told me walking down the hall to this.

“He’s such a great team member. He thinks so right. He’s going to be extremely valuable and a great asset to any team that’s smart enough to take him next year.”

Ferentz is at the center of the other NFL story line. Ferentz was linked this week to Patriots personnel executive Scott Pioli, a longtime Ferentz friend. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday that Pioli is under no deadline to make a decision on a head coach.

“Nothing, no news,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta barked on the sidelines.

That was basically what happened after the first quarter.

Nothing, no news.

The Hawkeyes took the first drive and marched 64 yards on 13 plays for a 7-0 lead on quarterback Ricky Stanzi’s 6-yard pass to wide receiver Trey Stross, who later broke his collarbone.

The Hawkeyes did everything they wanted to do on the drive against the Gamecocks’ best foot forward, their 12th-ranked defense.

With nine defenders planted on the line of scrimmage, Greene still managed 25 yards on seven carries. Stanzi found tight end Brandon Myers for first downs on third-and-8, third-and-5 and another third-and-8.

“We were able to capitalize on a lot of things because of Shonn,” Stanzi said. “They have to come down and respect him. They bring guys into the box and they overload a certain side, it gives us a lot of room to call a lot of plays. We gave them a steady diet of run and pass.”

On the Gamecocks’ second play, quarterback Stephen Garcia floated the ball into the deep middle, where safety Tyler Sash picked off the first of his two interceptions and returned it 29 yards to SC’s 18.

 

Five plays later, Greene, who finished the best season for an Iowa back with records for yards (1,850) and rush TDs (20), crashed in from the 1 for a 14-0 lead with 4:41 left in the first quarter.

“We had a whole bunch of penalties, we had a whole bunch of, aw shoot, we had a whole bunch of stuff,” Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier said. “I feel for our fans who came down here and spent a whole lot of money. Give Iowa credit for kicking our tails today.”

Photos: Iowa's Outback Bowl history

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Garcia teed up one for the Hawkeyes again, underthrowing a receiver with cornerback Bradley Fletcher swooping in and intercepting in the end zone. Iowa went 80 yards on nine plays, with Greene again smashing in from the 1 for a 21-0 lead with 8:09 left before halftime.

The big play was Stanzi hitting wide-open tight end Tony Moeaki for a 39-yard gain to SC’s 29. Moeaki started the play on a block, an SC linebacker bit hard on the run fake to Greene and that was that.

“This was all defense and offensive line,” Stanzi said. “Hats off to both. They did what they’ve been doing all year. They’ve been solid all year.”

Iowa scored on its first two drives of the second half – Daniel Murray botted an 18-yard field goal, Greene scored on a brilliant 11-yard run to go up 31-0 and basically put this thing in a sleeper hold.

“We had a chance to show the country what we’re about and we stunk it up again,” SC receiver Kenny McKinley said.

The Gamecocks were so one dimensional they made paper look like dynamic geometry.

SC rushed just 14 times for 43 yards. Garcia lasted a half and ended his day 8 of 19 for 79 yards and three picks. He was pulled in the second half in favor of Chris Smelley, who enjoyed some success in sleepy time. At one point in the first half, Iowa had as many TDs (two) as the Gamecocks had plays.

Outback Throwback: 2004 vs. Florida | 2006 vs. Florida

The Hawkeyes’ 23 interceptions this season ties the school record set in 1986. Defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul went out the way they wanted to, punching out an opposing offense.

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“I keep repeating this, but it really does start with King and Kroul,” said Sash, who tied the Outback record with his two interceptions. “Game in, game out. They set the tempo for the game. We know they’re going to get some pressure on the quarterback and that leads to interceptions for us.

“Those guys are our best friends.”

With about nine minutes left, Hawkeyes players started planning the Gatorade shower for Ferentz. Nine minutes left and it was already Gatorade strategy time. You have to question the spontaneity, though. King said they asked if they could do it.

“We didn’t know how Coach Ferentz would feel about it, especially with all that headset and pricey equipment on,” King said. “I’m just glad I got over there and got a hold of that bucket.”

They got him good. Almost as good as they got Carolina.

The Stats

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