If you feel like staying up late over the Christmas season and watching a very underrated college football matchup at 10 PM Eastern time, then the Insight bowl is just for you.
Kirk Ferentz and his Iowa Hawkeyes will take on Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners in a matchup of two very under-achieving, inconsistent teams.
Oklahoma was expected by many to be the top team in the country and contend for a national title prior to losing three games. Iowa had a chance to win their division in the newly re-aligned Big Ten, but they squandered it when they lost their first home game of the 2011 season to Michigan State, and then were embarrassed in their latest contest against Nebraska on the road.
Stoops’ Sooners have had a similarly poor month of November, losing on the road against Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III and Baylor, as well as getting hammered against Oklahoma State 44-10.
One reason for the Sooners’ inconsistencies is injuries, but you have to point back to quarterback Landry Jones, who has attempted close to 150 passes over the last three games and hasn’t thrown a single touchdown.
Still, this is a team full of playmakers and even despite their injuries should be well-prepared for the Hawkeyes, who seem to save their best football for bowl season in recent years.
Iowa is led by junior quarterback James Vandenberg and his sensational receiver Marvin McNutt, as well as sophomore running back Marcus Coker. The Hawkeyes’ three-headed monster is arguably as good as any quarterback/running back/wide receiver trio in the country.
Vandenberg’s receivers have struggled with dropped passes all season, a big reason why his completion percentage is only 59.4 at the moment, but “JVB” makes good decisions with the football, throwing 23 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions this season. His top target is Marvin McNutt, who has established himself as the best wide receiver in the history of Iowa football with a huge senior year.
McNutt’s 78 receptions for 1,269 yards and 12 touchdowns provided fans with plenty of reason to get excited, but he wasn’t the only one on offense producing.
After a slow start to the year, running back Marcus Coker hit his stride and had a sophomore season like many experts and analysts predicted, rushing the ball a whopping 281 times for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns. Coker doesn’t have blazing speed or quickness, but he hits the hole hard and he rarely goes down on initial contact.
If Iowa is going to beat Oklahoma, they are going to have to control the ball offensively and take advantage of their opportunities. Oklahoma has an explosive offensive attack that will look to take advantage of an Iowa defense which has shown a lot of youth and inexperience has been too much to handle at times this season.
Landry Jones has a lot to do on a national stage if he is going to impress NFL scouts, something similar to what Blaine Gabbert did last year against Iowa in the Insight Bowl. Gabbert carved the Hawkeyes defense essentially all game and made two really poor throws that wound up costing Missouri the game.
Jones has been mistake-prone most of the season and is having a year to forget by his standards, and Iowa will have to take advantage of his struggles and not allow him a ton of time to make decisions.