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December 29, 2006

Alamo Bowl: No. 11 Texas vs. Iowa

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Head-to-Head Breakdown

Iowa quarterback Drew Tate originally intended to play more than one game in his career against Texas.

The native of Baytown, Texas, at first committed to Texas A&M, but changed his mind when Dennis Franchione replaced R.C. Slocum as the Aggies coach. The decision turned out to be a good one for Tate, who is one of just four Iowa quarterbacks to be three-year starters. His 8,018 career passing yards, 59 touchdown passes and 650 completions are the second most in Iowa history.

Speaking of history, the Longhorns - who were in the national championship picture before losing their last two games - want to avoid repeating it.

In 1984 the Longhorns were also national championship contenders, but lost their last two regular season games and then were blasted 55-17 in the Freedom Bowl.

Their opponent in that game? Iowa.

Alamo Bowl: No. 11 Texas (9-3) vs. Iowa (6-6)
When: Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: San Antonio, Texas
TV info: ESPN (Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Rob Stone)
No. 11 Texas Longhorns
Conference: Big 12
Record: 9-3, 6-2
Coach: Mack Brown (91-22 in nine seasons at Texas)
Passing leader: Colt McCoy (191 of 278 for 2,262 yards, 27 TDs, seven INTs)
Rushing leaders: Jamaal Charles (152 carries for 805 yards, 5.3 yards per carry, seven TDs)
Receiving leaders: Limas Sweed (43 catches, 731 yards, 11 TDs)
Defensive leaders: CB Aaron Ross (73 tackles, five INTs, 18 passes broken up, three forced fumbles)
Iowa Hawkeyes
Conference: Big Ten
Record: 6-6, 2-6
Coach: Kirk Ferentz (55-42 in eight seasons at Iowa)
Passing leader: Drew Tate (192 of 327 for 2,349 yards, 16 TDs, 12 INTs)
Rushing leader: Albert Young (165 carries for 715 yards, 4.3 yards per carry, six TDs)
Receiving leaders: Dominique Douglas (46 catches, 614 yards, two TDs)
Defensive leaders: FS Marcus Paschal (64 tackles, one INT, four passes broken up, one recovered fumble)
Texas running game vs. Iowa run defense: The strength of the Longhorns' offense is the middle of the line. All-American Justin Blalock and Kasey Studdard man the guard spots and Lyle Sendlein at the center. Despite this strenght, the Longhorns sometimes seem hesitant to run inside. On a fourth-and-1 against Texas A&M, the Longhorns sent backup running back Henry Melton off tackle and he was stopped for no gain. Texas averages 170.3 yards rushing, but was well under that mark in consecutive losses to close the season. The Longhorns had just 143 against Kansas State - which might be explained by an early deficit, forcing UT to throw. However, that wasn't the case in a 12-7 loss to Texas A&M in which the Longhorns ran for just 70 yards. Jamaal Charles leads Texas with 805 yards rushing and Selvin Young has 580. Iowa's run defense has been suspect all season, and that was apparent in a regular-season closing loss to Minnesota in which the Gophers rushed for 214 yards. The Hawkeyes allow 138.9 yards per game to rank 63rd nationally against the run. But in the last three games that average swelled to 187 yards. Linebacker Mike Klinkenborg is a tackle machine with 129 stops, but too many obviously have come past the line of scrimmage.
Texas passing game vs. Iowa pass defense: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is still fifth nationally in passing efficiency, but his effectiveness waned after suffering a pinched nerve early in a loss to Kansas State. He had thrown for more than 200 yards in the four games before the injury. He came back against Texas A&M, but seemed to weaken as the game progressed and threw for just 160 yards and three interceptions. His favorite receiver most of the season has been 6-foot-5 Limas Sweed, who has 43 catches on the year - but only eight in the last four games. Quan Cosby, meanwhile, has caught 21 of his 38 passes in the last four games. Iowa has had trouble defending the pass, and six of the Hawkeyes' last seven opponents have thrown for more than 200 yards. The Hawkeyes have allowed 18 touchdown passes and recorded 14 interceptions, four of which came against Illinois on Sept. 23. Part of the problem is a lack of a steady pass rush, which suffered when DE Kenny Iwebema suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery. Iowa has managed just 21 sacks all season, and more than half were recorded in the first month. Bryan Mattison leads Iowa with 6 sacks.
Edge: Texas.
Iowa running game vs. Texas run defense: Albert Young rushed for more than 1,300 yards last season, so his drop to 715 this season has been a major disappointment. He was slowed by a sore knee that kept him out of a couple games, but the bigger issue is the offensive line's failure to develop into a cohesive unit. However, the Hawkeyes seemed to progess in the last two games. Iowa rushed for 182 yards against Minnesota and 134 against Wisconsin. Young had 133 rushing yards against Minnesota, which was only his second 100-yard game of the year. Damian Sims has also provided a nice running alternative with 638 yards (5.3 yards per carry). Texas ranks second nationally in run defense, but gave up two rushing touchdowns in a 12-7 loss to Texas A&M and could not stop a late touchdown drive.
Edge: Texas.
Iowa passing game vs. Texas pass defense: The Hawkeyes started the season with unproven receivers. Quarterback Drew Tate has had to deal with a strained oblique muscle, a hurt left hand and several dropped passes. Despite all that, the Hawkeyes still have averaged 237 passing yards per game. Tate, who missed two games, has passed for more than 200 yards six times and threw for 354 in a loss to Minnesota in the regular season finale. He has completed 58.7 percent of his passes, but has thrown 12 interceptions. Dominique Douglas leads the team with 46 catches, but tight end Scott Chandler has 44 receptions and six touchdowns. Texas' secondary includes Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross, but the Longhorns have been disappointing in coverage overall. Five opponents have thrown for more than 300 yards against the Longhorns, who endured a rash of injuries in the secondary. A hard rush is their best pass defense, and they've accumulated 36 sacks this season with DE Tim Crowder leading the charge.
Edge: Iowa.
Texas coaches vs. Iowa coaches: Mack Brown seems to draw more than his share of criticism, but he has won at least nine games every year since arriving at Texas in 1998. Last year's national championship certainly improved his resume. Kirk Ferentz is frequently praised as a rising star among coaches, and he led the Hawkeyes to 31 victories from 2002-2004. But the Hawkeyes slipped to seven wins last season and must win the Alamo Bowl to equal that total this year.
Edge: Texas.
Texas will win if: The Longhorns can capitalize on the advantages their receivers appear to have over the Iowa secondary. Texas must also keep Albert Young in check and force Iowa to be one-dimensional. The Longhorns have had issues in pass defense, but obvious passing situations will enhance Texas' pass rush.
Iowa will win if: First and foremost, the Hawkeyes must avoid turnovers. Iowa has lost 29 turnovers - 11 fumbles, 18 interceptions. They committed 16 turnovers in their six losses. Aside from that, the Hawkeyes must get back to the basics and play the physical, fundamental style that made them so successful in previous seasons. That will require raising their intensity level, which has been questioned at times this season. Oh, and getting pressure with the pass rush will help, too.
Injury situation: Texas QB Colt McCoy re-aggravated a pinched nerve in a loss to Texas A&M, but he has been cleared to play. If he has to come out of the game, Texas might be forced to replace him with receiver Quan Cosby - a high school quarterback - or senior walk-on Matthew McCoy. CB Tarell Brown and S Michael Griffin have been hampered with ankle injuries much of the season, but those should have improved. Iowa DE Kenny Iwebema, who had shoulder surgery earlier this season, is cleared to play. QB Drew Tate has worn a brace of his left hand in recent games, defensive tackle Mitch King has had a strained hamstring, CB Adam Shada has had a sprained ankle and S Marcus Paschal has had a sore hamstring, but all should be close to full strength.
Worth noting: Cosby played minor league baseball in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for two years, about 20 minutes from Iowa City The Alamo Bowl game will mark the second time in three years Iowa has played the defending national champion in a bowl game. The Hawkeyes defeated defending champ LSU 30-25 in the 2005 Capital One Bowl. TE Scott Chandler and FB Tom Busch are Iowa's only offensive players start all 11 games at their respective positions. Offensive lineman Mike Elgin also started every game, but he played at center and guard. Unless Jamaal Charles rushes for nearly 200 yards, the Longhorns' 11-year streak of 1,000-yard rushers will end. The impending transfer of backup quarterback Jevan Snead may leave Texas in a bind. If Colt McCoy's pinched nerve prevents him from playing in the Alamo Bowl Texas will likely start senior walk-on Matthew McCoy at quarterback. He has appeared in three games this season, most recently on Sept. 30 in a 56-3 victory over Division I-AA Sam Houston in which he rushed twice for 13 yards. Matthew McCoy has not attempted a pass this season.
Line: Texas by 10.5
Buchanan's pick: Texas 28, Iowa 16.
Other Rivals.com Expert picks:
Bobby Burton, editor-in-chief: Texas 35, Iowa 7.
Steve Megargee, national college football writer: Texas 31, Iowa 14.
Bill King, RivalsRadio host: Texas 31, Iowa 17.
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