Dallas Colleges: 2011 Insight Bowl

Instant analysis: Oklahoma 31, Iowa 14

December, 31, 2011
12/31/11
1:05
AM CT


Oklahoma ended a disappointing year on a high note, winning its third consecutive bowl game to record back-to-back seasons of 10 or more victories. Iowa's bowl magic vanished despite a plucky effort as the mistake-prone Hawkeyes lost in the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Let's take a closer look at the Insight Bowl:

How the game was won: Oklahoma's pressuring defense flustered Iowa and forced enough mistakes to buy time for Landry Jones and the offense to get going. The Sooners led 14-0 at halftime despite mounting only one productive drive, but their defense never backed down or broke down. OU made Iowa work for everything, and the Hawkeyes repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with penalties, dropped passes, poor throws, questionable play calls and other mistakes. Junior quarterback James Vandenberg and the Iowa offense established a rhythm midway through the third quarter and closed to within 21-14 with 6:56 left, but Oklahoma's power game, led by quarterback Blake Bell, responded to seal the victory.

Player of the game: Sooners cornerback Jamell Fleming. The senior set the tone early with an interception return to the Iowa 10-yard line, setting up the first of three Bell-dozer touchdown runs. Fleming also contained Iowa's All-Big Ten wide receiver Marvin McNutt, who had just four catches for 46 yards and appeared frustrated for much of the game.

Stat of the game: Oklahoma ran eight offensive plays in the first quarter, and had 12 yards and no first downs. But the Sooners led Iowa 7-0.

Candid camera: There was a scary moment late as ESPN's Skycam fell onto the field and nearly struck McNutt on a bounce. It delayed the game several minutes with 2:22 left to clear the wiring.

Second guessing: It's seems odd to question a Kirk Ferentz decision to go for a fourth-and-short situation, but Iowa really could have benefited from points following a 13-play, 68-yard drive midway through the first quarter. Down 7-0, the Hawkeyes marched to the Oklahoma 6-yard line before failing on third-and-4. Rather than kick the short field goal, Ferentz went for the touchdown and Iowa lost 3 yards on fourth down. Iowa didn't score until early in the fourth quarter.

What it means for Oklahoma: The Sooners ended on a positive note and showed they could be motivated to win a bowl despite a disappointing regular season. After being shredded by rival Oklahoma State, the Oklahoma defense responded very well against Iowa, controlling play for the first two and a half quarters. For a unit that endured inconsistent play in October and November, this was a good ending. The victory sends the Sooners into a crucial offseason, which begins with Jones' decision on whether to stay for his senior season or enter the NFL draft. Oklahoma loses some key seniors but still should enter the 2012 season as one of the top contenders for the Big 12 title.

What it means for Iowa: Hawkeyes fans can't be disappointed with the effort, but a team that repeatedly made mistakes away from its home field couldn't survive them again Friday night in Tempe, Ariz. The defense played very hard for retiring coordinator Norm Parker, but Iowa needed a cleaner performance to upset Oklahoma. Iowa sees its wins total drop for the second consecutive season, and the team now enters a critical offseason. Ferentz soon will name a new defensive coordinator, and he needs to put a stop to the revolving door at running back. Iowa loses key parts but should be more experienced at several spots. However, Hawkeyes fans expect more from their program and its well-paid coach, and they should. The Big Ten is only getting harder, and Iowa should be mirroring what Wisconsin and Michigan State have done rather than falling back into the pack. Not much has gone right for this program since the 2010 Orange Bowl victory.

Insight Bowl: Three keys for Oklahoma

December, 30, 2011
12/30/11
11:43
AM CT


Oklahoma and Iowa will go head-to-head Friday night in the Insight Bowl at 9 p.m. CT on ESPN. Here are three things Oklahoma has to do to avoid a Hawkeye upset.

1. Help Landry Jones out. His receivers -- sans Ryan Broyles -- have suddenly come down with a case of the dropsies late in the season. Jones will be throwing to lots of new faces without Broyles and Jaz Reynolds, and Kenny Stills hasn't looked like a No. 1 receiver in the Big 12 this year. Guys like Kameel Jackson, Trey Franks and James Winchester will get reps at receiver. The Sooners can't afford drops in what looks like it'll be a low-scoring game.

2. Don't get fancy in the red zone. Oklahoma tried this against Iowa State, and Blake Bell threw an interception. The Sooners have had a ton of success with the Belldozer -- a Tim Tebow-like formation that allows the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder to burrow through the offensive line -- in the red zone, scoring 10 touchdowns in the past five weeks. Baylor couldn't stop it. Iowa may not be able to, either. But the Sooners have looked shaky in the gadget plays out of this formation. Just let Bell do what he does and make the defense stop it.

3. Win the turnover battle. It sounds simple and obvious, perhaps, but it needs to be said. Oklahoma's offense isn't as explosive as it was when the season began, and if you're a heavily favored team, this is the best way to lose these types of games. It lost the turnover battle in spectacular fashion to Oklahoma State, 5-1. The result? The Sooners lost that game by 34 points. Oklahoma lost the battle 3-0 to Baylor and lost to the Bears for the first time in school history. Oklahoma has to take care of the ball.

Insight Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Iowa

December, 30, 2011
12/30/11
9:48
AM CT
Oklahoma and Iowa will play the other game in the desert -- the Insight Bowl -- Friday night at 9 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Should be a good one, with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops taking on his alma mater for the first time, and the two teams meeting for the first time since 1979. Here's a look at what to expect.

WHO TO WATCH: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma. It's not going to be easy for him. He'll be playing without two of his top three targets, Ryan Broyles (torn ACL) and Jaz Reynolds (kidney). The Sooners running backs are banged up and transferring, too, reduced to just Roy Finch and Brennan Clay. Jones hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in three games, either. He wasn't great against Oklahoma State, and he'll have to be better in this one, even as a heavy favorite.

WHAT TO WATCH: Iowa's running game vs. Oklahoma's front seven. This sounds familiar, no? Iowa dealt with running back transfers and suspensions in last year's Insight Bowl, but Marcus Coker rushed for 219 yards in a win over favored Mizzou. He's suspended now, and Iowa will turn to De'Andre Johnson, Jordan Canzeri, Damon Bullock and Jason White to run the ball. None of them have more than 18 carries. Oklahoma's best shot to lose this game -- it's been pretty lackluster late in the season -- is letting Iowa figure out a way to run against it. The defensive line and one of the Big 12's best group of linebackers have to slow down an Iowa running game that seems likely to struggle to produce.

WHY TO WATCH: This one has serious upset potential. Iowa has excelled in bowl games, winning three straight, including an Orange Bowl victory. Oklahoma has struggled mightily without Broyles, dropping games to Baylor and Oklahoma State late in the season. Iowa is a two-touchdown underdog, but this has a big chance to be the biggest bowl upset of the season.

PREDICTION: No. 14 Oklahoma 23, Iowa 21: On the flip side of the "Bet who wants to be here more" coin is Oklahoma, whose trip to the Insight Bowl is far from what it had hoped for in a season that began with national title hopes. The Sooners are banged up and dealing with player exits, but they're still significantly better than Iowa. We see a pretty lackluster performance from the Sooners, but they survive. Iowa is, after all, a team that lost to Iowa State, Minnesota and Penn State, and is playing without its top two running backs.

Insight Bowl

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
12:44
AM CT
Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (9-3)

Dec. 30, 1o p.m. ET (ESPN)

Iowa take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: Iowa football hasn’t had much go its way in the past 11 months aside from a dramatic victory against Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl. The Hawkeyes will return to Tempe, Ariz., later this month looking for another boost after an up-and-down 2011 campaign.

Kirk Ferentz’s teams typically save their best for the postseason, as Iowa is 6-3 in bowls during his tenure as coach, including victories in each of the past three years (2010 Insight, 2010 Orange, 2009 Outback). But extending the win streak will be tough against Oklahoma, the preseason No. 1 team. Both teams struggled down the stretch, each dropping two of the final three games.

Iowa is led by its big three on offense: receiver Marvin McNutt, running back Marcus Coker and quarterback James Vandenberg. Coker burst on the scene as a freshman at the 2010 Insight Bowl, setting an Iowa bowl record with 219 rushing yards. McNutt also has been fabulous, while Vandenberg struggled away from Kinnick Stadium but can put up big numbers.

The Hawkeyes' defense was in rebuilding mode for most of the season, as the NFL losses along the defensive line and at safety stung. Oklahoma isn’t nearly as dangerous on offense without star receiver Ryan Broyles, who is out for the season with a knee injury. But Iowa can’t let Landry Jones settle into a rhythm and must pressure the Sooners junior quarterback.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops faces his alma mater in Iowa, which goes up against the Sooners for just the second time after dropping a 1979 game in Norman.


Oklahoma State take from Big 12 blogger David Ubben: The "Chase For Eight" quickly went awry for the Sooners, who lost a 41-38 game at home to five-win Texas Tech. The Red Raiders didn't win again the rest of the season. The Sooners' defense fell to powerful offenses late in the season, too. Baylor bested the Sooners on a last-second touchdown from Robert Griffin III, and Oklahoma State receivers ran free in a Cowboys blowout.

Injuries played a huge role. That's undeniable, but this season, with the expectations that came with it, is nothing but a disappointment. The Sooners suffered two losses after losing Broyles and Dominique Whaley. Blake Bell's Tebow-esque "BellDozer" formation was pretty effective late in the season, but Oklahoma is bested only by Texas A&M as the Big 12's most disappointing team.

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