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Three key matchups
By FRANK PASTOR
Published January 2, 2006
FLORIDA'S PASS OFFENSE VS. IOWA'S PASS DEFENSE
Nowhere on the field will Florida enjoy a more sizeable advantage. Iowa allowed 254.7 passing yards per game, more than 93 Division I-A teams. The Gators didn't exactly light up the sky, ranking 59th at 222 yards per game. But quarterback Chris Leak had a strong connection with Chad Jackson, the target for 81 of his 210 completions and nine of his 18 touchdowns, and a healthy Dallas Baker and Jemalle Cornelius give him secondary options. Leak should have time to throw behind an offensive line that allowed 32 sacks; Iowa reached the quarterback 23 times.
FLORIDA'S RUN OFFENSE VS. IOWA'S RUN DEFENSE
Need another reason for Florida to go to the air? The Gators won't find much room on the ground against a rush defense that ranked 27th in the country, allowing 122 yards per game and 10 touchdowns. A physical front seven featuring three All-Big Ten players (defensive end Kenny Iwebema and linebackers Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge) is staunch up the middle, whether on running plays or crossing patterns. Factor in Florida's relative inability to run the ball (59th nationally at 144.7 per game), and Urban Meyer's dreams of a balanced offensive attack would seem to be just that: dreams.
IOWA'S RUN OFFENSE VS. FLORIDA'S RUN DEFENSE
Iowa has shown remarkable balance on offense, rushing for 20 touchdowns and throwing for 19. Quarterback Drew Tate completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,482 yards, and tailback Albert Young ranked eighth in the nation with 1,300 rushing yards. But aside from top-ranked Ohio State, which held the Hawkeyes to minus-9 yards in a 31-6 Buckeyes win, Iowa has not faced a run defense as formidable as Florida's. Behind All-SEC defensive tackle Jeremy Mincey, the Gators ranked 10th nationally, allowing 97.7 yards per game. If the Hawkeyes can't establish the run, Tate will have to throw against a secondary that yielded just a 50 percent completion rate and 13 touchdowns while forcing 15 interceptions.