TAMPA, Fla. - A defense that forced five turnovers, an offense that opened holes for an MVP running back who gained 121 yards and scored three touchdowns and special team's play that produced a field goal and outperformed the top kickoff coverage team in the Southeastern Conference equaled a 31-10 victory by the University of Iowa over South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl Thursday inside Raymond James Stadium.
It marked the fourth time in the last seven seasons that Iowa (9-4 overall) finished a season with nine or more victories. South Carolina retires 7-6. It is also the 12th time in school history that the Hawkeyes have won nine or more games in a season.
"I'm certainly very, very proud of our football team," UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "The credit goes to our players. They've done a fantastic job. The staff did a good job getting our guys prepared. We hoped we could execute and we did. The defense played hard and we were sound fundamentally."
UI running back Shonn Greene, the game's most valuable player, ran for 121 yards on 29 carries and scored three times, giving him a school-record tying 120 points this season. Freshman Jewel Hampton spelled the Doak Walker Award-winner (and soon to be NFL draft pick) and added 54 yards on the ground in 12 attempts. Iowa's balanced offense produced 181 rushing yards and 147 through the air behind quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who completed 13 of 19 with one touchdown. After the game, Greene informed Ferentz that he would forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
"I'm probably prouder of the way he's handled his acclaim," Ferentz said. "It's a great story and we had a team of great stories."
The five turnovers is the most for a Hawkeye defense in several seasons.
"We threw it right to them, then we fumbled right to them and got behind early," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said. "I like the way Iowa plays. They're a good team. Coach Ferentz and his guys did a good job. Give Iowa credit for kicking our tails today. We didn't want to get behind early, which we did."
"We came out ready to play and that was great to see," Ferentz said. "Certainly getting the turnovers was helpful."
Leading receivers for the Hawkeyes were Brandon Myers (4-49), Tony Moeaki (3-43) and Andy Brodell (3-27). Linebacker Pat Angerer registered a team-high six tackles with a sack and a pass breakup.
Iowa posted 328 total yards, held an advantage of 11:48 in possession time, picked up 22 first downs and had 50 fewer penalty yards than the Gamecocks. The Hawkeyes converted 8 of 12 three-down attempts. A bulk of South Carolina's 313 total yards came with the outcome already decided.
Greene's 121 yards Thursday completes the 13 game streak in which the junior tailback eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Shortly after the game, the Doak Walker award winner announced that he'll throw his hat into the NFL draft and skip his senior season.
"I wanted to get the win for the team," Greene said. "I don't think there's a lot more I could do here, so I figure I'll try my chances in the NFL."
Iowa had scored 86 straight points over the last seven-plus quarters before South Carolina got on the board with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Smelley to Jared Cook with 13:35 left in the game. The 6-play Gamecock drive covered 68 yards.
Succop added a 48-yard field goal with 2:02 remaining, a point where the majority of red left in the stadium belonged to the Buccaneer-colored seats.
"Thirty-one to 10 looks better than 31-7 in the long run," Spurrier said.