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Tag:2011 Insight Bowl
Posted on: December 31, 2011 2:11 am
 

QUICK HITS: Oklahoma 31, Iowa 14



Posted by Adam Jacobi

OKLAHOMA WON. It took longer to put away than the Sooners would have expected, but Oklahoma topped Iowa, 31-14, in the 2011 Insight Bowl. Landry Jones threw for his first touchdown since All-American WR Ryan Broyles went down with a torn ACL against Texas A&M on November 5, and short-yardage specialist QB Blake Bell rushed for three touchdowns on the day to help make Oklahoma's lead insurmountable.

HOW OKLAHOMA WON: Perhaps the complexion of the game would have been different if Iowa still had starting tailback Marcus Coker, who was suspended before the game for an unspecified conduct code violation. Alas, the Hawkeyes did not, and as a result the offense sputtered as it featured true freshman Jordan Canzeri instead. With Iowa struggling to move the ball, Oklahoma took a 21-0 lead into the fourth quarter, and although the Hawkeyes rallied late to push the score to 21-14 with about seven minutes left, OU slammed the door shut late.

WHEN OKLAHOMA WON: As mentioned before, the game appeared well in hand when Oklahoma led by three scores going into the fourth quarter. Iowa QB James Vandenberg came alive with a shift in offensive strategy in the second half, though, and it took a Michael Hunnicut field goal with 2:28 left to push the lead back to 10 points and effectively silence the Iowa rally. 

WHAT OKLAHOMA WON: There was no shortage of disappointment for Oklahoma to go from legitimate national championship contenders to Insight Bowl participants in the span of about a month, and the Sooners' extremely slow start on offense (7 yards in the first quarter) seemed to reflect that. But the Sooner offense gained momentum and finished strong to leave no doubt who the better team was in this game. That's an important reassurance for the players as they head into the offseason, and with a little help from some teams higher in the ranking, OU might even be able to parlay this win into a Top 10 finish just yet.

WHAT IOWA LOST: Iowa lost this game as soon as Coker was suspended, and the fact that Canzeri managed about three yards a carry even with a pretty good performance by his offensive line should drive that fact home. OU's defensive front was ripe for giving up a big day, and that just didn't happen when Iowa didn't have a legitimate tailback to run the ball. Still, Iowa's effectiveness throwing the ball out of the spread in the fourth quarter just underscored how futile it was to give the 172-pound Canzeri over 20 rushes (including 13 in the first quarter) and left Hawkeye fans wondering why Iowa spent so much time running a conservative offense in the first three quarters.

THAT WAS CRAZY: With 2:22 left in the fourth quarter as Iowa prepared for its first play from scrimmage on its last drive, ESPN's SkyCam unexpectedly fell to the field. And while the camera itself was never in danger of hitting any players, the wires on which the camera moves through the air nearly decapitated Marvin McNutt and three other Iowa players. Watch the insane video here.

BONUS CRAZY: On the drive that would end in the aforementioned Hunnicut field goal, OU faced a key 3rd down near midfield, and gave the ball to fullback Trey Millard. Millard went off-tackle right into the path of big-hitting safety Jordan Bernstine, who went low to take out Millard's legs. The result, as seen in the picture at the top, was a beautiful hurdle from Millard and a first-down run, and OU wouldn't look back for the rest of the game.

FINAL GRADE: D+. There wasn't much drama in this game, and neither team was at full strength in its offensive skill positions. As a result, neither team gained even 300 yards -- Iowa actually outgained OU, 292-275, as a matter of fact -- and all the fireworks were limited to pregame introductions. Hard to justify staying up late for this one.

Posted on: December 29, 2011 3:06 am
 

Insight Bowl Key Matchup

Posted by Adam Jacobi



A look at the key matchup that could decide the Insight Bowl

Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma vs. Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa

Marvin McNutt
is pretty indisputably the best pure wide receiver to ever wear the Iowa uniform. He holds the Iowa season and career records in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, he's five catches away from the team season record, and he's eight receptions away from the Iowa career record -- all in just three seasons of work as a regular contributor at WR. Not bad for a converted three-star QB out of St. Louis. The 6'4", 215 lb. wideout excels in making catches on the run -- often difficult or even one-handed grabs -- and he and QB James Vandenberg have been lethal on fade routes this season (see above). Iowa is 7-2 when McNutt gets the ball six or more times, and 0-3 when he doesn't meet that mark, so shutting McNutt down is a high priority for OU.

Where McNutt is not particularly effective, however, is route precision. McNutt's stride is long enough that while it's not necessarily a negative on long-developing plays or other routes where he gets a free release, it does affect his agility and ability to shake a cornerback who just needs to play press coverage for three or four seconds, like on hooks, short outs, and other single-move timing routes. And lo and behold, that's two-time first team All-Big 12 cornerback Jamell Fleming's specialty.

Fleming gives up plenty to McNutt in terms of physicality at 5'11" and 191, as most corners do, but his agility and ball skills are advanced enough that he's going to be able to play within five yards of the line of scrimmage with confidence -- especially if OU's pass rush is as effective as expected. Fleming excels in shuttle agility and should be able to make a play on most quick throws that go McNutt's way. Now, if McNutt makes a catch, he's strong enough that Fleming isn't guaranteed to make the tackle, which could spring a big gain or two on slants or any route that ends with Fleming tailing McNutt, but OU's going to be primarily concerned with disrupting Iowa's timing to the extent that those plays are minimized from the start. 

Keep up with all the latest on Oklahoma and Iowa at the Insight Bowl Pregame.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview  
Posted on: December 29, 2011 2:22 am
 

Keys to the Game: Insight Bowl, Iowa vs. Oklahoma

Posted by Adam Jacobi

IOWA WILL WIN IF: Oklahoma feels like loaning the Hawkeyes a few starters, especially one at RB. Iowa faced long, long odds in this game even with its backfield at full strength. Now, starting RB Marcus Coker -- second only to Montee Ball among Big Ten RBs in rushing yards and touchdowns -- has been suspended and will not join the team at the Insight Bowl, and top backup Mika'il McCall was also suspended before the Nebraska game and will also not join the team. Iowa had a chance to pull an upset here with a running game to fall back on; now, QB James Vandenberg's going to have to basically carry the offense, and that's not a recipe for success.

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: The pass rush on the edge continues its dominance. Oklahoma is seventh nationally in sacks per game at just over three per, and defensive ends Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis are a big part of that; the two players lead the Sooners in sacks and have combined for 14 on the year, but the beauty of Oklahoma's pass rush is its ability to get production out of its blitzers. 15 out of the 37 sacks racked up by the Sooners this year have come from the back seven, often from the edge, and that's precisely where Iowa has faced its most difficulty picking up blitzes when they've come from outside rather than up the middle. So being that Iowa's not going to keep OU on its heels with an effective running game, the Sooners should be prepared to pin their heels back on the outside and tee off with the pass rush.

THE X-FACTOR: Motivation. Oklahoma spent most of the season as a legitimate national championship contender, so to slide this far and end up in a December bowl against a 7-5 opponent like Iowa is probably going to have a deleterious effect on Oklahoma's ability to get motivated for this game. Additionally, Iowa just slodged through its most mediocre season since 2007 and already played in the Insight Bowl last year. So between those two factors, it's easy to envision that players on both sides might have a tougher time than usual getting up for this game. As such, whichever team blocks out the distractions and puts together good, honest hard work in preparation for this game is probably going to have an early edge. Bowl teams from BCS conferences are generally good enough to beat any opponent that isn't adequately prepared or motivated for the game, but there's really no telling who holds the edge here.

Keep up with all the latest on Oklahoma and Iowa at the Insight Bowl Pregame.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com