Iowa had waited for a big defensive play all season during heartbreaking last-second losses. It finally got it in the Insight Bowl.
Micah Hyde picked off Blaine Gabbert near the sideline, reversed field and followed a convoy 72 yards for the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter, as Iowa rallied past 14th-ranked Missouri, 27-24.
Iowa (8-5) had been tortured all season by a defense that faded in crunch time. The Hawkeyes lost three straight coming into the bowl game, all by four points or less. The defense had given up a game-winning touchdown in each of its five losses, and also had the bowl distraction of player suspensions, as leading receiver Derrel Johnson-Koulianos and leading rusher Adam Robinson both sat out.
Big players stepped up in their place. True freshman Marcus Coker ran for an Iowa bowl record 219 yards and two touchdowns and Marvin McNutt compiled 63 yards receiving for the Hawkeyes. Coker’s rushing total surpassed Bob Jeter’s 194 yards in the 1959 Rose Bowl victory over California.
“Our seniors — there are 25 great guys in the class — and they leave with 28 wins and three bowl wins in the last three years,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We knew this was going to be tough and it certainly was. Special teams impacted the game positively for us.”
Gabbert threw for 434 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions with 152 of those yards going on 15 completions to T.J. Moe. Jerrel Jackson caught nine passes for 129 yards for Missouri (10-3), which failed in its quest to win four straight games to end a season for the first time since 1965.
Iowa took the opening kickoff 67 yards in eight plays to paydirt. Ricky Stanzi’s 49-yard connection with McNutt was the drive’s big play, and Coker’s fifth straight rush ended with a touchdown from one yard out.
The Tigers took their initial possession 75 yards on 16 plays, converting three third downs, including a 24-yard toss from Gabbert to Jackson on 3rd- and-19 from midfield. The march stalled and Grant Ressel booted through a 23-yard field goal for a four-point game.
A quick dart from its new back gave Iowa a double-digit edge. After a six-yard pass to Allen Reisner, Stanzi turned and handed off to Coker, who did the rest with a 62-yard jaunt for a 14-3 edge.
Missouri reversed field position on its next series, but Iowa used a 38-yard toss from Stanzi to Don Nordmann to set up another score, this time a 34-yard field goal off the foot of Michael Meyer for a 17-3 lead.
The Tigers answered with a heavy dose of the pass — five complete passes in all — before Henry Josey caught the Hawkeyes off guard with a 10-yard TD jaunt for a seven-point margin.
Coker again ran around and through the Missouri defenders on Iowa’s first second-half possession. Coker broke off a 35-yard run highlighted by a head-on collision with a linebacker five yards into the scamper. The drive stalled inside the Tigers five-yard line, and Meyer was true from 21 yards out for a 20-10 lead.
Missouri again called a plethora of passes on its next drive. Gabbert found an open Michael Egnew for 25 yards and again for 13 later on in the march. He finally sprinted up the middle for a seven-yard score and 20-17 deficit late in the third quarter.
After a Stanzi interception, Missouri methodically moved 57 yards in nine plays to take the lead. The Tigers needed to convert just one third down, and Egnew was the recipient of Gabbert’s deft three-yard TD pass for a 24-20 lead.
After Gabbert’s poor decision resulted in Hyde’s 72-yard interception return, the Tigers advanced the football to the Iowa 43-yard line and appeared to connect on a fourth-down throw to the sideline. However, the originally ruled completion was overturned, creating a turnover on downs.
Iowa iced the game with Stanza’s 39-yard completion to Reisner in the closing seconds.
“I just got greedy,” Gabbert said. “The guy (Hyde) made a great play and that’s all I can say about that. I forced it.”
This game marked Missouri’s 28th all-time bowl appearance. Missouri made one other appearance in the Insight Bowl, downing West Virginia, 34-31, in 1998…Iowa played in its 25th bowl game…Missouri still holds a 7-6 edge in the all-time series, and this was the first meeting since 1910…Missouri had 512 total yards to 425 for Iowa…Stanza threw for 200 yards on 11-of-21 passing with two interceptions…Egnew caught seven passes for 64 yards. Coker carried the football 33 times, averaging 6.6 yards per carry.