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By The Numbers: Iowa vs. Tennessee

BY DANNY PAYNE | DECEMBER 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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Well, this is it. It’s the last Pregame until Sept. 4, 2015, which is one day before Iowa takes on Illinois State. It’s been fun — so much fun that we should do this one more time.

In the final edition of By The Numbers for this year’s Pregame (you’re crying, I know), we take a look at Iowa’s matchup with Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Tennessee finished with a 6-6 record, which is an improvement from the year before, when the Volunteers went 5-7.

Iowa, on the other hand, is down a win from year ago and finished the regular season 7-5, meaning this game could be a nice way for the seniors to go out — or maybe it will be one final gut punch this year.

Tennessee red zone-touchdown conversion — 59.18 percent (Ninth in SEC)

When inside their opponents’ 20-yard line, the Volunteers haven’t had a striking amount of success this season. For perspective: Tennessee wouldn’t have been that much better in the Big Ten. It would have taken 11th, behind Illinois and in front of Purdue.

But this is an advantage for the Hawkeyes. Iowa only allows its opponents to score touchdowns 50 percent of the time and lets them leave the red zone with points at a not-so-good 78.85 percent clip. 

Iowa needs to contain Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who has scored five of his six rushing touchdowns this season in the red zone. Two came against Vanderbilt and South Carolina and another came against Kentucky.

Tennessee sacks allowed — 42 (14th in SEC)

Tennessee’s offensive line has had trouble protecting its quarterbacks this season. And while Iowa’s trouble isn’t as severe as its opponent’s, the Hawkeyes have had trouble sacking opposing quarterbacks in 2014. 

Iowa racked up 25 sacks this season, good for ninth in the Big Ten at 2.08 per game. It’s nothing spectacular, especially when Iowa only managed three sacks over the course of its final four games.

Three of those four games, of course, were against the three teams that finished ahead of Iowa in the Big Ten West — Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Against the Badgers and Gophers, Iowa failed to tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage.

Tennessee interceptions thrown — 13 (Tied-11th in SEC)

In the five games he’s played this season, Dobbs has thrown a pick in each of them. Because he’ll likely play the whole game, we’ll stick to that number and not account for the interceptions Justin Worley threw when he was the starter. Iowa has intercepted 12 passes this season, seventh in the Big Ten. 

When those numbers are flipped, things get interesting. Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard have combined for the fewest picks in the Big Ten this year, with 6. But the Volunteer defense has intercepted 15 passes this season, tied for third in the SEC.

There’s some disparity there, and whichever team takes advantage of the other quarterback’s mistakes has a good shot to win this game.

Iowa penalty yards — 28.9 per game (Fewest in Big Ten)

Just like the Hawkeyes, Tennessee has lost the fewest number of yards because of penalties in the SEC with 32.4 per game. Iowa has been penalized 42 times this season, while Tennessee has been hit 50 times.

More than anything, this is a testament to both head coaches. Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said he models some aspects of his program after Kirk Ferentz-led Iowa, specifically discipline.

“They’ve had good consistency and good stability,” Jones said. “Their teams have always been very tough, very physical, very well-coached.”

Although it’s a small sample size, Jones increased his win total from his first year to his second, and that his team was the most disciplined in the SEC speaks to him getting the results he wants.


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