Orange Bowl Preview: No. 9 Georgia Tech vs. No. 10 Iowa

Ricky Rothstein | Updated Oct 04, 2017

Ricky Stanzi

A look, now, at one of the biggest bowl games on the NCAA college football betting landscape: The Orange Bowl.

All sports betting lines come courtesy Sports Interaction’s online sportsbook.

The Numbers: Georgia Tech comes in at -5.5, with the Over/Under currently sitting at 51.0. A big reason for this number is the question mark hanging around Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi (pictured, right) — he’s missed the last three games with an ankle injury. Even prior to that, Stanzi had a penchant for being erratic, throwing 14 interceptions in nine games

The Hype: Georgia Tech vs. Iowa aren’t exactly the first names you think of when conjuring images of exciting college football, but given (1) how bad the bowl games have been this year and (2) how unique this matchup is, it could end up being the best of the bunch. It’s a classic offense vs. defense battle — Tech is No. 2 nationally in rush offense at 307.2 yards per game. Iowa is No. 30 in rush defense, allowing just 122 yards per game.

The Location: The game will be played at Land Shark Stadium in Miami, home of the Dolphins. If there’s a home-field advantage to be had, you’d think it would be with the Yellow Jackets (you know, Georgia neighbouring Florida to the North and all). But the Tech faithful are apparently being overshadowed by the large contingent of Iowa supporters in Miami — there are roughly 10,000 die-hard Hawkeyes football fans who have come to cheer on their team at the Orange Bowl.

The Matchup: Georgia Tech’s option offense vs. Iowa’s swarming linebackers. In RB Jonathan Dwyer (1,346 yards, 14 TDs) and QB  Josh Nesbitt (991 yards, 18 TDs), the Yellow Jackets can run the ball on almost anybody, something they proved this year by finishing second in the country in average rush yards per game.  Nesbitt is a fantastic athlete who can really make defenses look foolish when he’s out of the pocket; he and Dwyer have great chemistry and anticipatory skills, and that’s what makes the option offense so deadly. But Iowa’s bread and butter is its defense, and that makes for a compelling matchup. All Hawkeyes linebackers are disciplined and sure tacklers, none more so than Pat Angerer, who finished fifth in the country with 135 tackles this season.

The Intangible: Stanzi. He hasn’t played in nearly two months, and it was clear Iowa was an entirely different team with him than without him. The Hawkeyes were 9-0 prior to him going down to injury against Northwestern; the result after that was a loss to the Wildcats, a loss to Ohio State and an ugly 12-0 win over Minnesota to finish out the Big 10 season.