On Tuesday night at Sun Devil Stadium, in Tempe, AZ, the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5,4-4) captured the 2010 Insight Bowl, with a 27-24 victory over the #12 Missouri Tigers (10-3, 6-2). Following the game, a somber Coach Pinkel gave Iowa credit for the win.
"Both teams battled, and both teams made mistakes," said Coach Pinkel. "I'm certainly proud of our team for competing the way that they did. I know that everybody's very disappointed................... There was a lot of plays out there. Everybody could have done something different to make a play. But, we fought and we competed, and we fell short. But, that's a great group of kids."
The story of the night was Iowa's power running game, behind Marcus Coker's 219 yards, and 2 TDs rushing, on 33 carries (6.6 yards/carry). Almost all of Coker's production came on runs inside the tackles.
"(Coker's) a tough runner," explained Coach Pinkel. "He was tough, and he was running for those extra yards after contact."
On the other side of the field, Blaine Gabbert had a record-setting night, with 434 yards passing, on 41 of 57 (72%), and a TD. But, it was the second of his two interceptions, which was returned 72 yards for a TD by Micah Hyde, that ultimately sealed Missouri's fate.
The game began ominously for the Hawkeyes, as Iowa took the opening kick-off, and marched 67 yards down the field in eight plays. Marcus Coker took it in for the score from the one-yard line. The key play on this drive was a 49-yard completion from Ricky Stanzi to Marvin McNutt, on third and five. McNutt beat Carl Gettis in one-on-one coverage for the reception.
Missouri started out on their own 20, and moved the ball for a 17-play drive that culminated in a Grant Ressel 23-yards FG. Blaine Gabbert appeared to be sharp, spreading the ball around to several receivers, especially Jerrell Jackson, who had 3 receptions for 48 yards on this drive.
After the two teams exchanged punts, Iowa took over early in the second quarter, at their own 32-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Coker burst over the right side, and went untouched, 62 yards for a TD.
Missouri came out from their own end, but had to punt. The Hawkeyes took over on their own 14-yard line, and began a 9-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard FG by Mike Meyers. Iowa led 17-3, with 7:28 remaining in the half.
The Tigers started at their own 18-yard line, and drove 82 yards in 9 plays, with Henry Josey taking it across from 10 yards out, to pull Missouri to within 17-10. Gabbert was spectacular on this drive, converting a third and ten to T.J. Moe, and finding Jackson for another 26 yard reception.
The Missouri defense held, and got the ball back to the offense at the Missouri 16-yard line, with 2:42 remaining in the half. Gabbert drove the Tigers down to the Iowa 14-yard line, where on third and ten, he hit Jerrell Jackson right in the hands, in the end zone. Jackson clutched at the ball, knocking it up into the air, for what became an easy, drive-ending interception by Iowa's Brett Greenwood. The Hawkeyes escaped into the locker room with a 7-point lead.
Through the first 30 minutes, Iowa's physical play had given them the upper hand, and Marcus Coker had rushed the football 16 times for 113 yards, and 2 TDs.
But, in the second quarter, Blaine Gabbert began to put on a show for the many NFL scouts in attendance, as he had moved his team seemingly at will.
The Tigers opened the second half with the football, but failed to sustain the drive, and Matt Grabner punted the ball out of bounds at the Iowa 3-yard line.
Iowa mounted a 13-play drive that covered 93 yards, before Missouri's defense stiffened, and the Hawkeyes' had to settle for a 21-yard Mike Meyers FG. Iowa led 20-10.
Following the ensuing kick-off, Missouri took over on their own 23-yard line, and drove right down the field for the score. Gabbert was 6 for 6, for 60 yards, and ran for 17 yards, on this drive, including the final 6 yards for the TD. Iowa's lead was just 20-17, with 4:34 remaining in the third quarter. Missouri appeared to have the momentum. The Tigers were doing a better job of slowing Coker, and Stanzi was about to be exposed. Gabbert seemed unstoppable.
After Coker had picked up an Iowa first down at their own 48-yard line, Kevin Rutland picked off a Ricky Stanzi pass, and returned it to the Missouri 43-yard line.
Nine plays later, Michael Egnew took an inside screen pass from Gabbert, and ran over Brett Grenwood at the goal line, to put Missouri ahead 24-20, with 0:54 remaining in the third quarter. It appeared that Iowa was in trouble.
The fourth quarter began with the two teams exchanging punts, and Iowa had the better of the field position, before Jerrell Harrison stepped in front of, and picked off, a Stanzi pass. Missouri had the ball at their own 31, leading 27-24, midway through the fourth quarter.
Six plays later, on first and ten, from the Iowa 29-yard line, Gabbert felt some pressure from his right, and scrambled out to his left, looking for Wes Kemp, who turned, and began to block the defensive back, Micah Hyde. Instead of running out of bounds, or throwing the ball out of bounds, Gabbert inexplicably tried to force the ball to Kemp. His pass hit Hyde right in the hands, and Hyde returned it 72 yards, for what turned out to be the game-winning score.
Missouri got the ball back, but Iowa blitzed Gabbert into a couple of poor throws, and a diving first down reception by T.J. Moe, on fourth and six, was overturned upon review.
Moe had a record-setting day, with 15 receptions, for 152 yards. Jerrell Jackson had the critical drop at the close of the first half, but ended the game with 9 receptions for 129 yards.
"In tight games, you can always look to three or four plays in a game that's going to make the difference," said Coach Pinkel, in conclusion. "I'm still very proud of this football team. They accomplished an awful lot this year."