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The Box Score: TaxSlayer Bowl edition

BY DANNY PAYNE | DECEMBER 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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Following a disappointing 7-5 regular season, the Iowa football team will close its season with the chance to match its win total from a year ago in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2, 2015.

The Hawkeyes will meet 6-6 Tennessee in Jacksonville, Florida. The Volunteers will play in their first postseason game since the 2010 season, when they lost, 30-27, to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl.

This edition of “The Box Score” centers on the matchup between Iowa and Tennessee.

Iowa rushing offense — 156.33 yards per game

Iowa finished ninth in the Big Ten in rushing offense in 2014. Tennessee, on the other hand, allowed 162.08 yards per contest, which ranked ninth in the SEC. Even more similar, the Hawkeyes rushed for 20 touchdowns, while head coach Butch Jones’ squad allowed 21.

Now, flip the script: Iowa allowed 158.75 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns. Tennessee went for 135 yards per game, which was second-to-last in the SEC, and scored 16 rushing touchdowns.

For context, it’s good to note that Iowa played in a conference with better rushing attacks, in terms of scoring. In interleague play, Big Ten teams scored 222 rushing touchdowns, and SEC teams scored 182 when playing each other.

Considering Iowa played against five of the nation’s top-13 backs, four of whom were in league play, it’s hard not to give the Hawkeyes credit in this category.

Joshua Dobbs total offense — 249 yards per game

Since taking over as the starter, Dobbs led the team to a 3-2 record, compiling 1,077 passing yards and an additional 393 rushing yards — the latter of which ranks second on the team.

The sophomore is first on the team in total offense, and it’s no secret Iowa has struggled with dual-threat quarterbacks this season. Among others, Maryland’s C.J. Brown rushed for 99 and threw for 120 against Iowa. Wisconsin’s Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy combined for 139 in the air and 74 on the ground against the Hawkeyes.

Even more, Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner did damage both ways against Iowa, totaling 215 yards, 77 of which came on the ground.

If this trend keeps up for Iowa, the Hawkeyes could be in for a long day against Dobbs.

Tennessee opponents’ fourth-down conversion rate — 42.86 percent

In a season of not knowing what to expect from head coach Kirk Ferentz’s squad on a weekly basis, there’s been a fairly regular theme: going for it on fourth down.

The Hawkeyes went for it 22 times this season, converting at a 63.64-percent clip. Both of those numbers are good for third in the Big Ten.

So the Hawkeyes have an advantage there. However, Iowa allowed a 72.73 percent conversion rate to its opponents in the regular season, while the Volunteers converted 63.64 percent of their fourth-down tries this year.

Not too big of a disparity here, but if it does come to it, don’t be surprised to see Mark Weisman display some smash-mouth running on fourth down with a decent chance of success.

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.


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