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Point/counterpoint: Will Iowa defeat Missouri in the Insight Bowl?

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 07, 2010 7:20 AM

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NO

The Hawkeyes are heading to Arizona to play in a bowl game.

Unfortunately, it won't be the national championship game fans dreamed of before the season started.

Instead Iowa is heading to the lowly Insight Bowl after it ended the season on a three-game losing streak and finished with a mediocre 7-5 record.

The Hawkeyes' opponent is the Mizzou Tigers, who are led by junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert, a former blue-chip recruit, is a second-year starter and is regarded as a potential first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

The 6-5 gunslinger, a tailor-made pro-style quarterback, has led the Tigers to a 10-2 record. The record includes a dismantling of then top-ranked Oklahoma Oct. 23 in Columbia.

Mizzou has excelled on both sides of the ball with a potent offense averaging 35 points per game while a stingy defense gives up an average of 14 a game.

The Tigers' only losses both came on the road (Nebraska, Texas Tech), and both games were close.

The team is talented, and the majority of starters are expected back with what could potentially be a national-championship team in 2011.

Missouri has to be furious facing the lowly Hawkeyes in the Insight Bowl, considering it's one of the top teams in the country with just two losses. I expect the Tigers to play inspired and wreck an Iowa team that has clearly given up on the season.

Anyone who watched the last three games of the season could see that the Hawkeyes were consistently outplayed and beaten by teams worse than them in Northwestern and Minnesota.

This Iowa team didn't live up to the preseason hype, and the coaching staff is to blame. Ken O'Keefe consistently fails to be able to call offensive plays that move the chains. And a defense that made its living last year in opponents' backfields is consistently beaten by opposing teams in the fourth quarter. The Gophers — a team that is the joke of the Big Ten — put up more than 200 rushing yards on Iowa.

Expect the Hawkeyes to continue their slide and be thoroughly embarrassed by a far superior Missouri team.

— by Ben Wolfson

YES

Remember how just a few short months ago, the Iowa football team seemed geared for a run at a national championship?

But then, the Hawkeyes lost to Arizona. And Wisconsin. And Northwestern. And Ohio State. And Minnesota.

Goodbye BCS, hello Insight Bowl.

The season has been marked by disappointment, and playing in a pre-New Year's bowl game is the icing on the proverbial cake from a fan's standpoint.

It might be the best thing to happen to Iowa all year, though.

Kirk Ferentz and Company can use the disappointment, humiliation, and frustration as motivation against No. 14 Missouri. The Hawkeyes will be angry on Dec. 28, and anger on the football field is good.

The anger will manifest itself mostly on the defensive side of the ball. After all, the defense gave up fourth-quarter, game-winning touchdowns in each of the team's last three games. The defensive linemen have one more shot to justify their prodigious preseason hype, and they'll deliver against Mizzou.

Also, consider that one of Iowa's best offensive showings of the year — at Michigan on Oct. 16 — came after the team's bye week. Michigan's defense may have had the worst season of any team in football history, but Iowa's extra week to prepare gave the Hawkeyes an edge.

Ferentz has even more time to get ready for Missouri. The Hawkeyes have three whole weeks to study film, draw up a plan, and get Adrian Clayborn on a treadmill so he can play the fourth quarter.

Iowa could play any team in the Insight Bowl and the result would be the same. The Black and Gold will be angry, they'll be prepared, and heads will roll.

Mizz-who?

— by Seth Roberts


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