The Iowa Hawkeyes opened up 31-0 lead through the first three quarters and were never seriously challenged in the final quarter enroute to a 31-to-10 victory over South Carolina in today’s Outback Bowl.
Iowa finished their season with a 9-4 record, winning six of their last seven games. Coach Kirk Ferentz says his team played with great focus. "We were pretty determined. This team has just done so many good things the last six weeks of the season, to let this month go by and waste an opportunity would have been a shame so I think everybody was committed to doing their absolutely best," Ferentz said after the game during an interview on The Hawkeye Network from Learfield Sports. "…The work was hard, but I think everybody would agree it paid off today."
Iowa tailback Shonn Greene was named the player of the game. During an interview after the game on The Hawkeye Network on Learfield Sports, Greene joked that Ferentz had run a bit of a "boot camp" for the players in preparation for the bowl game. "The players, you know, we were kind of wondering what was going on," Greene said. "But I think when we looked at the scoreboard today, we realized why he did that."
Greene scored three rushing touchdowns and carried the ball 29 times for 121 yards. "We had a great year. Everybody, you know, put the work in to have a great season like this and it’s paid off," Greene said. "Everybody’s enjoying it and I think we owe a lot to the coaches for pushing us in practices and working out and stuff like that…It’s been a great ride."
Greene set a new Hawkeye record by scoring 20 rushing touchdowns this season. Greene also ran for 1851 yards over the 13-game season, another Hawkeye rushing record. Today’s Outback Bowl may have been Greene’s final game if he decides to turn pro. "Coach Ferentz has been giving me good advice," Greene said. "…I’ll be going home (Friday), so that’ll give me a chance to sit down with my family, talk things over a little bit more."
About a year ago Green was working as a furniture mover and getting his grades in order. Less than a month ago, Greene won the Doak Walker Award as the best running back in college football in 2008 — a turnaround Greene himself calls "unbelievable."
"A lot of credit goes to the coaching staff and my teammates," Greene said. "…They were behind me the whole way, behind me 100 percent so that’s what motivated me to get back and get focused on my grades."
Ferentz also praised Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi’s New Year’s Day performance. Stanzi threw for the Hawkeye’s opening touchdown and completed 13 to 19 passes in the game. The Iowa defense was dominant as well, with three interceptions and a fumble recovery — just in the first half. "We’re not the fanciest group but the guys… came ready to go and I thought it really started up front…kept disrupting their quarterbacks and working hard," Ferentz said. "You know, it takes all 11 guys playing with good technique and playing with good effort and I think for the most part we got that today and (it) certainly was good to see us come up with those turnovers."
A red-shirt freshman stepped up to make some big plays for the Iowa defense in today’s Outback Bowl. "It was great to come out and get the ‘W’ for all the Hawkeye fans here today," strong safety Tyler Sash of Oskaloosa said after the game on the Iowa Hawkeye Network from Learfield Sports.
Sash snagged two of the three Hawkeye interceptions in the game and recovered a South Carolina fumble. His first interception came in South Carolina’s second offensive play of the game. "I was just sitting, playing middle field…I’d like to say it was a Christmas present because he threw it right to me," Sash said on Learfield Sports.