Breakdown: Insight Bowl

Hawkeye Insider Publisher Rob Howe analyzes Friday's Insight Bowl which pits Iowa against Oklahoma.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Much of the pre-game build-up for Friday's Insight Bowl in Tempe is focusing on who's not playing for Iowa and Oklahoma. The teams likely will need contributions from unproven players.

The Hawkeyes will be without leading rusher Marcus Coker, who is suspended from the game for disciplinary reasons. DeAndre Johnson's 18 carries this fall were second to Coker's 281.

Starting right tackle Markus Zusevics is battling a stomach bug. Special teams contributors Brad Herman, Ray Hamilton and Quinton Alston will miss the game with injuries.

Oklahoma will be playing without starting wide receiver Jaz Reynolds (kidney). Also out are fullback Aaron Ripkowski (back) and running back Brandon Williams (neck).Star wideout Ryan Broyles also is sidelined after tearing his ACL in November.

"No, it is usually us," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said when asked if he can remember a game with two teams missing key players. "It was kind enough for them to reciprocate a little bit. It is college football. That's football.

"Injuries and behavioral issues play into the scheme of things. That's just how it is. I think about LSU. We were down four tailbacks in 2004 (Cap One Bowl), that season. They had a couple guys that could run well in their back field that fell. Oklahoma has lost some good players."

The loss of Coker could be devastating for Iowa. The Hawkeyes would be well served to control the clock with a running game and keep Oklahoma Quarterback Landry Jones on the sideline as much as possible.

Now, Iowa must hope reserve backs like Johnson, Jordan Canzeri and Damon Bullock - all freshmen - can balance the Iowa attack. Oklahoma will blitz until they prove that they can.

"They still have an excellent offensive line," Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops said. "When they create...if they create space, I'm sure they have guys that will jump in that space and make something happen.

"So, you know, those are issues. Or you wonder...you have to consider will they throw it a little bit more than usual. We have to look at that. So we will have to see how the game goes."

HAWKEYE HUDDLE: Hawkeye fans traveling to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona can make plans to attend the Hawkeye Huddle on today from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (MST) in the South Ballroom at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North 3rd Street in Phoenix, Arizona. When traveling to the Convention Center using Interstate 10, take Exit 145-Seventh Street and go south to Van Buren, Monroe or Washington streets. If you use Interstate 17, take Exit 195-Seventh Street and go north to Washington, Monroe or Van Buren streets.

The Hawkeye Huddle is presented by the National I-Club and the UI Alumni Association. Hawkeye Huddles are free events open to all Hawkeye fans and include appearances by Herky, the Iowa cheerleaders, and the Hawkeye Marching Band. This special Insight Bowl Hawkeye Huddle will also feature "Voice of the Hawkeyes," Gary Dolphin. There will be door prizes, cash refreshments, snacks, and great opportunities to socialize with other Iowa fans prior to the game.

TELEVISION: ESPN (HD) will televise the contest to a national audience. Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Heather Cox will call the action. Kickoff is set for 9:05 p.m. CT.

RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa is 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten. No. 14 (BCS Standings) Oklahoma is 9-3 and 5-3. The Sooners are ranked No. 19 in both major polls.

HISTORY: Oklahoma defeated Iowa 21-6 in 1979 at Norman, Okla. in the only previous meeting between the two teams. That game was the second contest for Hayden Fry as Iowa's head coach, a position he held through the 1998 season. Two reserves who played for Iowa in that contest were Bob Stoops, the current Oklahoma head coach, and Bruce Kittle, currently a Sooner assistant coach.

THE LINE: The Orleans in Vegas installed Oklahoma as a 16-point favorite to open on Dec. 6. The numbered dropped to as low as 13.5 and sat at 14 earlier this week.

First Thought: That's a lot of points. Iowa mostly plays close games and rarely gets blown out.

Then again, many prognosticators feel Oklahoma underachieved this year and should, in the very least, be playing in a BCS bowl. Many of those same folks are wondering if the Sooners will be disappointed with the postseason lot and be disinterested on Friday.

If preseason No. 1 Oklahoma, even with signficant injuries, plays up to its potential, it's not hard to imagine them covering. But, will it?

The Iowa coaches have a history of knocking off favorites in bowl games. That certainly should make one hesitate before laying two touchdowns with the Sooners.

The over/under is 58. That number seems kind of high.

Here are a some interesting trends:

-Hawkeyes are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 bowl games.

-Hawkeyes are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 bowl games as an underdog.

-Hawkeyes are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater.

-Hawkeyes are 12-5-1 ATS in their last 18 games as an underdog.

-Sooners are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.

-Sooners are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall.

-Sooners are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 bowl games.

-Sooners are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Bowl games as a favorite.

KEY MATCHUPS:

Iowa LT Riley Reiff vs. Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander - This looks like an outstanding match-up on paper. They could very well meet again in the NFL next season.

Reiff and Alexander are tremendous athletes who rely on technique and agility. The match-up could end up in a push, but if one of these guys gets the better of the other, it could play a huge role in deciding the outcome of the game.

Iowa Running Backs vs. Oklahoma Front 7 - With Coker out, Iowa's remaining running backs need to combine for some semblence of a rushing attack.

Oklahoma is not great against the run. Their opponents' 139.6 yards per game allowed on the ground are fifth in the Big 12 and 49th nationally.

Oklahoma QB Landry Jones vs. Iowa Front Seven - The Sooners junior signal caller has ammassed 4,302 yards through the air this season with 28 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.Iowa needs to find a way to get pressure on Jones, which has not been a strength for the Hawkeyes in '11.

Oklahoma WR Kennt Stills vs. Iowa CB Shaun Prater - Iowa's senior defensive back has been slowed by a knee injury during bowl preparations. Stills has improved a lot since the season started.

While the Hawkeyes aren't comfortable with man coverage, they've had to do more of it to free players up to help in the pass rush. Prater and opposite corner, Micah Hyde, could be left on an island at times and can't give up big plays.

INJURIES:

Oklahoma - Jimmy Stevens (questionable, quadriceps), Ronnell Lewis (out, suspension), Jaz Reynolds (out, kidney), Aaron Ripkoowski (out, back).

Iowa - Markus Zusevics (probable, illness), Marcus Coker (out, suspension), Mika'il McCall (out, suspension), Brad Herman (out, ankle), Ray Hamilton (out, knee), Quinton Alston (out, knee).

THE SKINNY:

-Iowa is one of four schools (Florida, Florida State and South Florida) to have won a bowl game in each of the last three seasons. Oklahoma is one of 22 additional teams to have won a bowl game following each of the last two seasons.

-Iowa and Oklahoma played one common opponent. Iowa lost at Iowa State (44-41) in triple overtime. The Sooners won by a 26-6 margin in Norman.

-Oklahoma has played four of its 44 bowl games against current Big Ten Conference teams, but only one of the four was against a team that was in the Big Ten at the time. Oklahoma defeated Michigan 14-6 in the 1976 Orange Bowl. The Sooners also defeated Penn State in the 1972 and 1986 Orange Bowls and Nebraska in the 1979 Orange bowl, but Penn State and Nebraska were not in the Big Ten in those years.

-Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops are completing their 13th season in their current positions, respectively. Ferentz and Stoops rank fourth in longevity among FBS head coaches, behind Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech, Larry Blakeney of Troy and Mack Brown of Texas. Ferentz is the dean of Big Ten coaches.

THE PREDICTION: It's hard to get a good handle on this games because of the injuries and suspensions. It's also tough to gauge what teams will show up.

If we're just looking at talent, Oklahoma wins going away. But we all know that there are more factors that qo into this equation.

Iowa could benfit from the emotion of playing the last game for outgoing defensive coordinator, Norm Parker. The Hawkeyes also do well in an underdog role.

Oklahoma has the motivation of winning a 10th game in a season for the 11th time during the last 13 seasons. The Sooners also might want to win one for their coach against is alma mater.

I picked Missouri to beat Iowa in the Insight last year because I thought the Tigers were the better team, but not neccesarily the more talented one. The Hawkeyes proved me wrong.

They'll have to do it again. I think the Sooners are the better team and the more talented one. Although they have three losses, they're all against legitimate opponents.

Oklahoma 38, IOWA 24


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