December 29, 2011

The Eternal Season - Insight Bowl Game Notes

Iowa’s Record: 7-5, 4-4 Big Ten, 2-3 B1G Legends
Iowa’s Rankings
USA Today:

2011 Iowa Football Schedule (times eastern)

9/03/11 Tennessee Tech WIN 34-7
9/10/11 @ Iowa State Loss 44-41 3OT
9/17/11 Pittsburgh WIN 31-27
9/24/11 Louisiana-Monroe WIN 45-17
10/01/11 Bye Week
10/08/11 @ Penn State Loss 13-3
10/15/11 Northwestern WIN 41-31
10/22/11 Indiana WIN 45-24
10/29/11 @ Minnesota Loss 22-21
11/05/11 Michigan WIN 24-16
11/12/11 Michigan State Loss 37-21
11/19/11 @ Purdue WIN 31-21
11/25/11 @ Nebraska Loss 20-7

12/30/11 2011 Insight Bowl Iowa v. Oklahoma, 10:05 pm, ESPN

December 30th, 2011: Iowa Hawkeyes v. #14 BCS, #19 AP/USA Today Oklahoma Sooners, 9-3, 6-3 Big 12
Prior Games: 1, Oklahoma leads 1-0
Last Game: 1979, Iowa 6, Oklahoma 21

Hawkeye Stat Pack:

Turnover Margin: +2
Big Ten #6, NCAA #42

Interception Battle:
Linebackers: 1
Secondary: 8

Current Line: Iowa +14

2011 Key Stats  - Final Regular Season
Scoring Defense 23.3, Pass Def 228.1 Rush Def 159.5, Pics 9, Total Def 387.6
Big Ten                 #8                      #12                         #7              #7 tie                  #8
NCAA                   #42                    #69                         #64            #68 tie                #67

Scoring Offense 28.7, Pass Offense 236.3, Rush Offense 142.8, Total Off 379.2
Big Ten                #6                             #3                                #12                        #6
NCAA                  #53                          #57                               #77                       #70

Depth Chart for this week:
2011 Insight Bowl

Hello again Hawkeye Friends!

So, I worked on Black Friday and didn’t see the Nebraska game, but thanks to friends and text messages, it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t missing much.  So we hope that in the month off, the Hawks can flush the memories of that game and focus on this one, and our excellent coaching staff has shown that they know how to do that in the seasons past.

After finishing 7-5, there was some speculation that our bowl destination would be north rather than south, but as the last weekend played out, the Insight bowl folks remembered that Iowa fans travel well.  That, and lots of Iowans retire to Arizona, so there is already a built in ticket base.

And of course, the Insight folks probably never dreamed that the Oklahoma Sooners could fall all the way down to their bowl.  Not the team that started the season #1 in both polls, and then went 6-0 out of the gate.  But the Sooners went .500 in their final 6, and that’s how they fell out of the national title picture, and then, the BCS.  

Which, for many Iowa fans, is a very, very long overdue showdown with a school that has been in a neighboring conference for just about forever.  And then you factor in Stoops and the two other coaches that are Iowa graduates, all who got their coaching start under Hayden.  And then there is the post Hayden drama, where Stoops interviewed for the Iowa job, and Iowa apparently decided to interview a few candidates, so when the Sooners offered, Stoops jumped at it, and Iowa fans were left to wonder whom Kirk Ferentz was.   So for many of us, this matchup has been a long time coming.

And then, there was the news that broke shortly after the Iowa bowl destination was determined – this will be the final game for Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker, who will retire.  In light of his recent health troubles, a good time for him to do so.  Over the past several seasons, when given a month, Norm has been able to take a potent offense and make it look rather terrible.  So will be the goal again this time, although injuries have played a major role in the Sooner’s second half slide.  So that challenge may not be as hard as it could have been.

Now, a look at the Oklahoma 2011 season. 

Week 1: v. Tulsa, 47-14 Sooners, Tulsa finished 8-4, in the Bell Bowl v. BYU.
Week 2: Bye
Week 3: @ #5 Florida State, 23-13 Sooners.  FSU 8-4, v. ND in Champs Bowl.
Week 4: v. Missouri, 38-28 Sooners.  Tigers 7-5, v. UNC in Independence Bowl.
Week 5: v. Ball State, 62-6 Sooners.  Ball State 6-6.
Week 6: v. #11 Texas, 55-17 Sooners. Texas 7-5, v. Cal in Holiday Bowl.
Week 7: @ Kansas, 47-17 Sooners.  Jayhawks 2-10.
Week 8: v. Texas Tech, 41-38 Tech. TT 5-7.  A bad loss.
Week 9: @ #8 Kansas State, 58-17 Sooners.  KSU 10-2 , v. Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.
Week 10:  v. Texas A&M, 41-25 Sooners.  A&M 6-6, v. Northwestern in the Meineke Bowl.
Week 11: @ #22 Baylor, 45-38 Bears. Baylor 9-3, v. Washington in Alamo Bowl.  Baylor’s 1st ever win over Oklahoma.
Week 12: v. Iowa State, 26-6 Sooners.  ISU 6-6, v. Rutgers in Pinstripe Bowl.
Week 13: @ #3 Okie State, 44-10 Cowboys. OSU 11-1, v. Stanford in Fiesta Bowl.

The Sooners were cruising right along through the halfway point, but things turned for the worse when their top tailback went down in the 6th game.  He had 627 yards and 9 tds through the first 6 games.  Bad as that was, just three weeks later, the top receiver in the history of the NCAA  - Ryan Broyles – was felled by a torn ACL.  He, a mere 349 catches with 45 receiving tds to that point.  After Broyles went down, QB Landry Jones tossed 5 picks with no td passes – which led to a team total 28 turnovers, tied for 8th most in Division 1.  They are prone to mistakes.

And while the Hawks are hardly coming in on a roll, the same can be said for Oklahoma.    They still had a shot to get to the Big 12 title game, and BCS with a win, when they went to face Okie State in the annual ‘Bedlam’ game.  The Sooners were never in it – coming just a couple minutes from being shutout, as the Cowboys were playing to unseat Alabama from the BCS #2 spot.  The Sooners could do nothing to stop them.  In the end, it didn’t work for OSU, who gets Stanford instead of LSU.

Losing your top tailback and record setting wideout are bad, but since those guys were lost, the other starting receiver, as well as the 2nd string tailback, and starting fullback, have been lost to injuries and won’t play in the bowl.  For such a high powered offense, major weapons are missing. 

All that said, this is a team with a QB that was on the short list for Heisman when the season started – and he did get to over 4200 yards and 28 tds.  So the Iowa defense is going to have to get pressure with the guys up front, and the secondary has got to keep everything in front of them – the Sooners can put up points in a hurry with big plays.  Again, there is some hope that with a month to prepare, the Iowa defense may have some success at this.

Alas, there was the news of about a week back that Marcus Coker had broken some team rule, and was not making the trip to Arizona.  With that, many Iowa fans assumed the sky was falling, that once again, tailback chaos would consume the Hawks in the leadup to the game.

It has not happened – people who have seen the Iowa bowl practices have indicated that Jordan Canzeri is getting the most snaps with the 1st team.  This will be his chance to stake his claim to more carries next year – just as Coker did in the bowl game last year.  While Jordan is not likely to run people over like Marcus, he is more inclined to go the distance if he gets into the secondary – see his high school highlight video on youtube when you have a chance.  You know he is going to be amped up to show what he can do – don’t be surprised to see him top 100 if he gets 12-15 carries.  The Sooners do give up 140 yards per game on the ground, and got gouged for 278 by the Cowboys.  It can be there for the Iowa offense.

It holds true in all football games, but in this one, Ken has to call a smart game, and James has to execute it – the Hawks must win the time of possession battle, and in this game, we simply must get touchdowns when we get inside the Sooner 30.  I think if we have two or more field goals, we are doomed.

And if the Iowa defense is able to force those very probable Sooner turnovers, we must get points – we will need points to come from somewhere besides our regular possessions. 

James returns next year, but this will be it for Marvin in the Iowa colors.  James has got to find him early – we can assume the Sooners will load up the box to try and stop the Iowa 2nd/3rd team running game.  Likewise, the Sooners are a team that doesn’t see much of the way of pass catching tight ends in their league, so ours must make their presence felt over the middle.  As Iowa has done a few times this year, use the passing game to open up the running game.  Then the play action passes deep to Marvin can be there.

This has got to be a stellar effort from the Iowa 0 line – Oklahoma averages 7 tackles for a loss per game.  Having the quicker Canzeri in there will help, and we hope that in the month of prep, James has grown more aware of blitz scenarios and is prepared to toss the ball away when needed.  We have to stay ahead of the chains – this will be another of those games where our 3rd down percentage has got to be above 50% if we have any shot of winning.

Then, the special teams.  Oklahoma doesn’t impress with kickoff returns or punt returns, but here is an area where we need to steal some points if at all possible.  Any game changing plays have got to come from the Hawkeyes.

This is all easy to type, but doing it is another thing entirely.  Yet, as we saw in this game last year, the Iowa coaching staff can work wonders with the extra practices that bowl games allow.  There is the very real possibility that the Sooners will be flat in this game – with such high expectations, to be playing in the Insight Bowl, mere miles from the site of the Fiesta Bowl, where they were a year ago, and where they could have been if they had shown up in Stillwater. 

Know this – the Hawks will be ready to play, and a quick start could do wonders.   We will almost certainly have the ball first – and it has got to be 7-0 when we give it back.  Maybe then, the Sooners will be thinking about what could have been, and how they threw it away down the stretch.  And then we’ll have them right where we want them.

Stranger things have happened my friends.  In the warmth of the desert, the Iowa offense will click like we saw it could at various times this year.  The Iowa defense will be foaming at the mouth to send out their leader with a classic performance.  And like the Paper Tigers learned, it will be the Iowa defense that wins the game with a pick-6 in the 4th quarter.   Hawks 38, Sooners, 35.

And that would have wrapped up the Insight notes, but today (Wednesday), the Big Ten and Pac 12 dropped a bombshell that starting in the 2012-13 season, the power conferences will begin scheduling basketball and Olympic sports against each other.  But the real stunner was that in 2017, Big Ten and Pac 12 schools would all play one non-conference game against a school from the other conference.  Every year.  Because of this, the Big Ten may drop the plan to go to 9 conference games (a mistake, in my opinion), but it still could impact long-term non-conference rivalries.  Of note for Hawk fans, Iowa has already said ISU will remain on the schedule.  The bigger side of this – with a guaranteed game against a Pac 12 school, the likes of Michigan, MSU, and Purdue may no longer feel they need to put Notre Dame on their schedule.  And that would likely force the Irish into the Big Ten at last.  And that could begin the eventual landslide to the four 16 power conferences and (at last), a real Division 1 playoff.   You can bet I’ll have a lot to say about that as those cross-conference games get closer.

All right friends, not long now until the Hawks look to erase the pain of another season of disappointment against a Big 12 team that probably thinks they just have to show up to win.  For your scribe, a day full of football – going to the Pinstripe Bowl to see ISU take on Rutgers, and then I’ll be at the bar to see the Hawks.  Enjoy the game, and a Happy New Year to you!



No comments:

Post a Comment