2010 Orange Bowl rewind: Offense’s fast start was catalyst for entire game

Hawkeye Headquarters

We’ve got a special broadcast of the 2010 Orange Bowl this Saturday at 7 p.m. on the Quad Cities CW (Channel 26.1). All week long, we’re taking a trip down memory lane with that team. Today is the fourth installment of our series, as Hawkeye Headquarters reporter Adam Rossow tells us how the offense’s focus on efficiency helped shorten the game.

The Iowa offense had a quiet confidence entering the matchup with Georgia Tech.

“We knew we were going to get their best shot, but we also knew that we could put a great product on the field,” said former Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi. “Strike when we can, strike when we have the ball, put good drives together, get on the board early and make them try to throw the ball,”

An aggressive game plan made that even more apparent.

“We knew we were better than their defense, right. We knew that we had an advantage on offense against their defense,” said former Iowa offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde. “We knew if we could score on a certain number of possessions, we were going to have a certain number of points, and there was not really anything they could do about coming back.”

A fast start was the catalyst for a big night in Miami. Two touchdowns in the first three possessions had the Hawks playing with a lead the entire game.

“It was just a case of kind of feeling out the X’s and O’s a little bit and picking our spots,” Stanzi said. “As soon as we got control, and saw how our defense was playing it was kind of like, ‘alright, let’s just keep the foot on the gas pedal’. This is working in our favor, and we just sort of rode that momentum all the way to the finish line.”

Stanzi connected on his first eight pass attempts of the Orange Bowl. It was his first action since injuring his ankle against Northwestern in early November at Kinnick Stadium.

“Don’t have any rust. Come out quick, come out firing, show them that the ankle has nothing to do with anything,” said Stanzi about his return from injury. “I felt very good physically going into that game.” It was an added boost for a unit that was galvanized all year long by its signal caller.

Stanzi and the Hawks finished with over 400 yards of total offense in the win.

“Rick had whatever that intangible thing is that rallies other people together, gives them the confidence. That leadership ability to give everyone the confidence that no matter what the situation was, we were going to be able to overcome that,” Vandervelde said.

Stanzi would become the program’s first starting quarterback to win three bowl games in a career before Nate Stanley equaled that feat in 2019.

“The postgame celebration was surreal. Confetti flying everywhere, the hats are being handed out you’re chucking oranges into the stands. My whole family was there, you’re celebrating with your buddies. It’s the exclamation point on a great season,” Stanzi said.

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