Friday, December 30, 2011
Insight Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Iowa
By David Ubben
Oklahoma and Iowa will play the other game in the desert -- the Insight Bowl -- Friday night at 10 p.m. ET 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 versus 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.