How do you destroy your opponent?
TENNESSEE 45 IOWA 28
January 2, 2015
How? You do this with your first 8 possessions:
That took the Tennessee Volunteers all the way to the 3:13 mark of the third quarter. It was Tennessee 42 Iowa 7 at that point. And that was the ballgame.
It also doesn’t hurt to start those 8 possessions on the following yard markers:
- Tenn 20
- Tenn 33
- Iowa 49
- Tenn 38
- Tenn 34
- Tenn 25
- Tenn 28
- Tenn 25
Robert Neyland and George Cafego would have been proud.
It all added up to a colossal beat-down of the Big Ten’s Iowa Hawkeyes.
On the day, the Vols made 27 first downs. Only 5 were from a 3rd down situation. It added up to 461 total yards, which included 283 yards on the ground, the second highest total of the season.
That last factoid was the most surprising to me. Tennessee ran the ball down the Hawkeyes’ throat, averaging 7.5 yards per carry at a point early in the fourth quarter before the game devolved into one where the Vols took the foot off the gas and refused to run up the score.
The ground game didn’t resemble anything that I’ve seen in Orange for a very long time… at least against quality, experienced opposition. It was powerful. It was efficient.
Leading the ground game charge was freshman Jalen Hurd, who carried the ball 16 times for 122 yards and 2 TDs. Many of those yards were made after broken tackles. He sat out most of the second half. And not to be outdone, QB Joshua Dobbs ran 13 times for 76 yards and 2 TDs.
Catching the ball stats were led by Von Pearson with 7 receptions, 75 yards, and 1 TD. But the most exciting catch was Vic Wharton’s lone reception that went 49 yards for a TD on the first play of that particular drive. It wasn’t the yardage so much as it was because Marlin Lane was the passer on that play — a little trickeration with the game still a game.
Meanwhile, a large percentage of Iowa’s 28 points and 346 yards were in the garbage time that was the fourth quarter. Before that, the Hawkeyes’ offense was stifled by a physical, disciplined Vols defensive unit that indicated they had long over come the absence of linebacker A. J. Johnson.
The win was Tennessee’s first postseason victory since beating Wisconsin in the 2008 Outback Bowl. And it capped the first winning season since 2009.
It was a sweet win for a program decimated by so many things over the past few years – a win that will certainly accomplish one thing if nothing else: expectations for the 2015 season will be through the roof, including, for some no doubt, winning the SEC East.
Personally, I’m not going to think about that for a while. I’m just going to bask in the glow that my Tennessee Volunteers performed perhaps the best of all its conference teams this bowl season.
That is progress. Significant progress.
Happy New Years and have a great offseason. Oh wait… there is no offseason in the Volunteer State!