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2006 Alamo Bowl - Texas vs. Iowa
Posted Dec 14, 2006

The big story so far has been the horrible performance by the Big 12. Can Drew Tate and Iowa keep the slide going in the 2006 Alamo Bowl against Texas?

Texas (9-3) vs. Iowa (6-6)

Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

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Alamo Bowl Player Profile: Texas OL Justin Blalock, team bowl history and more

If you had said before the season that Texas and Iowa would be squaring off in a bowl, you might have assumed it would be in some BCS game. After all, Texas, the defending national champions, were expected to be good enough to win the Big 12 title, while Iowa, led by senior QB Drew Tate and with a relatively favorable schedule, appeared ready for a big year.

Not quite.

Call this the Limp Bowl as the two teams are coming in on major down notes with Iowa losing five of its last six games and Texas blowing a shot at the national championship with a loss to Kansas State before choking away the Big 12 South with a home loss to Texas A&M. Considering the Longhorns were hoping for a trip to Arizona and the Fiesta Bowl, the Alamo is hardly going excite anyone. On the other hand, Iowa has to be doing cartwheels to get a bowl game this good when it should rightfully be off to the Insight, if not worse.

National Rankings
Iowa Texas
Total Offense
29th  237 ypg 23rd  392.58 ypg
Total Defense
67th  340.92 ypg 22nd  291.92 ypg
Scoring Offense
58th  23.83 ppg 5th  36.75 ppg
Scoring Defense
45th  20.25 ppg 25th  17.83 ppg
Run Offense
47th  148 ypg 30th  170.33 ypg
Run Defense
63rd  138.92 ypg 2nd  58.83 ypg
Pass Offense
27th  237 ypg 41st  222.25 ypg
Pass Defense
63rd  202 ypg 98th  233.08 ypg
Turnover Margin
107th  -0.83 16th  0.67
Montana  W 41-7
at SU W 20-13 2OT
Iowa State W 27-17
at Illinois W 24-7
Ohio State L 38-17
Purdue W 47-17
at Indiana L 31-28
at Michigan L 20-6
No Illinois
W 24-14
Northwestern L 21-7
Wisconsin L 24-21
at Minnesota L 34-24
North Texas W 56-7
Ohio State L 24-7
at Rice W 52-7
Iowa State W 37-14
S Houston St W 56-3
Oklahoma W 28-10
Baylor W 63-31
at Nebraska W 22-20
at Tex Tech W 35-31
Okla St
W 36-10
at Kans St W 45-42
Texas A&M
L 12-7
Position Ratings
relative to each other
I 5 highest
1 lowest
4 Quarterbacks 4
4 RBs 4
3 Receivers 4
3.5 O Line 4.5
3 D Line 4.5
3.5 Linebackers 4.5
3.5 Secondary 3.5
3.5 Spec Teams 4
4.5 Coaching 4

For the Hawkeyes, this is a chance to make amends for a disappointing year and get the fan base jazzed up for 2007, even though Tate will be graduating, and prove the program hasn't slipped as much as it appears. After a nice 5-1 start with a forgivable loss to Ohio State and a memorable goal line stand to beat Syracuse, the season appeared to be on the verge of big things with Indiana, Northwestern and Northern Illinois still to play and with Wisconsin coming to Iowa City, but the Hoosiers pulled off a 31-28 shocker, the Wildcats stunned the Hawkeyes 21-7, and the NIU game being the only win in the second half of the year.

Texas lost to Ohio State in early September, but there was a general feeling the team was just getting started with new starting quarterback Colt McCoy getting his feet wet. After going on a nice run winning eight straight games including a dominant stomping of Oklahoma, who had Adrian Peterson at the time, and with a rally to beat Nebraska in Lincoln, talk was starting to swirl about a possible rematch with the Buckeyes for the national title. McCoy got hurt against Kansas State, wasn't quite the same against Texas A&M, and the Longhorns are in San Antonio.

To say Texas underachieved is a bit too harsh. No, the defense wasn't nearly as good as it should've been and Jamaal Charles and the running game didn't do what it was supposed to, but there's still enough talent in Austin to keep the NFL happy. With a team good enough to have played for the national title, there's no a question of whether or not Mack Brown caught lighting in a bottle with Vince Young, or if last year just an aberration for him and his coaching staff.

Iowa can move the ball, especially through the air, and the defense wasn't awful, but the lines weren't up to normal Hawkeye snuff and there were turnovers. Lots and lots of turnovers, 29 to be exact, and they all seemed to come at the worst times. Injuries were a major problem, but not coming through in the clutch on either side of the ball against inferior teams was the bigger issue.

This is the Big 12's big chance to keep the momentum going in the Alamo. 4-7 against the Big Ten after last year's 32-28 Nebraska win over Michigan, Texas is a heavy favorite. Will the time off help Iowa get everyone right, or will it benefit the Longhorns with McCoy coming back from a neck injury? Will Texas pull a clunker in a disappointing bowl? Will Iowa pull a 1998 Purdue when it beat a far better Kansas State team? A win for the Big Ten would be a major feather in the league's cap and would be disastrous for the Big 12, but the loss would be even worse for Brown and Texas putting the heat on for next year.

Players to watch: Is Drew Tate finally right? Expected to make a big jump in overall production and lead the way to a possible Big Ten title, he was banged up throughout the season, was never consistent, and appeared to press too much and made too many mistakes with 12 interceptions with six in the final three games. But he's always thrown picks with 33 in 41 career games. Unlike past seasons when he made up for his mistakes with a game-changing play or two to save the day, he wasn't able to come through when needed. A Texas high school legend, this is his chance to make amends and go out with a bang. 

Tate's counterpart, Colt McCoy, is expected to be all systems go after having problems with a pinched nerve in his neck. When he was right, he proved to be a solid decision maker and accurate playmaker throwing at least two touchdown passes in every game over the nine-game winning streak before getting hurt against Kansas State barreling in for a touchdown. He grew into a leader and threw like a more confident passer as the season went on. This is now his team for the next few years; as he goes, so goes Texas.

No matter what McCoy does, Texas will need some help from the running game. Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles have been solid, but not spectacular with Charles having a surprisingly disappointing year. As fast as any back in the Big 12, he didn't break off nearly enough home runs and went through a big-time scoring drought in the middle of the year going five games without a touchdown scoring four over the final three games and three in the first four. This is the final game for Young, who's been a solid complementary back throughout his career and an excellent kick returner. When he gets the opportunity to work, he's productive.

For Iowa to keep the chains moving, Tate has to be on and he has to find his go-to target, tight end Scott Chandler, right off the bat. Dominique Douglas led the team in receptions, but it was Chandler who was the key on third downs and when the team needed a big grab making 44 catches for 555 yards and six scores. At 6-7 and with great athleticism, he's a matchup nightmare for the Texas back seven.

Texas will win if... Iowa's defense hasn't come up with a new wrinkle over the last several weeks. The Hawkeye run defense was on a bit of a roll doing a fantastic job against Michigan and keeping NIU's Garrett Wolfe in check, and then it fell off the map getting pounded on by the Northwestern, Wisconsin and Minnesota lines. Basically, the front four hit a wall. Texas hasn't quite used its line like it should've throughout the season and hasn't dominated enough games by grinding it out, but it should be able to against the undersized Hawkeyes. The Longhorn front five should be better as the game goes on, so if you're noticing linebacker Mike Klinkenborg or the Hawkeye defensive backs making plays on Charles and Young, you know things aren't going well for Iowa.

Iowa will win if... Texas is all pouty. We've seen it before, like the 2003 Holiday Bowl loss to Washington State, when the far superior Longhorn team left its head back in Austin. Iowa can't win this thing straight up unless Texas is unfocused, or unless Tate turns into a madman. The UT secondary, even with future NFL millionaire Michael Griffin and Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross, has been awful at times getting beaten too often by pedestrian passing games and ripped apart by good ones. Tate is looking to make amends for this season, and if he gets hot, all bets are off. He's the type of gritty, gutty playmaker who can keep Iowa in the game by himself as long as he's not making mistakes.

What will happen: It all depends on how seriously Texas takes this. Iowa doesn't have the talent or athleticism to hang around for more than three quarters if the Longhorns bring their A game on both sides of the ball, but if Colt McCoy is still hanging his passes like he was against Texas A&M, and if the defense is giving up the deep passes like it did against Kansas State, the Hawkeyes have a shot. The Texas lines will turn out to be too much for Iowa to overcome and Tate will throw two critical interceptions to all but end the game in the second quarter.

Line: Texas -10.5 ... CFN Prediction:
Texas 34 ... Iowa 20