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Point/counterpoint: Who will win the 2011 Insight Bowl?

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa

A lot of fans seem concerned about Iowa's chances in the Insight Bowl against Oklahoma on Dec. 30.

They need not worry.

This isn't your grandfather's Oklahoma team. Hell, it isn't even your older brother's Oklahoma team.

The Sooner offense has taken a step back in the wake of the torn ACL Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma's All-American wide receiver, suffered. Broyles was the Football Bowl Subdivision all-time leader in receptions. Quarterback Landry Jones was once a Heisman contender, but he has looked like anything but a player worthy of the bronze statue without his favorite target.

The Sooners also lost Jaz Reynolds, the team's third-leading receiver, to a kidney injury just last week.

The Hawkeye defense has had its share of struggles this year, but the players have to feel a little more confident knowing two of Jones' three favorite targets won't be on the field; the role of shutting down the last man standing, Kenny Stills, will fall to All-Big Ten cornerback Shaun Prater.

The only question mark for the Hawkeyes will be the offense. Can Marvin McNutt and Company find the explosiveness they've displayed in flashes this season? Can McNutt get back on track after his worst outing of the year against Nebraska?

Probably. Iowa's No. 7 won't be seeing a corner anywhere near the caliber of the Cornhuskers' Alfonzo Dennard; the Sooners' pass defense is just 83rd in the nation. Running back Marcus Coker should find Oklahoma's 49th-ranked rush defense agreeable, too.

The Black and Gold shouldn't have a problem ironing out their problems with a month to prepare.

I think the Hawkeyes take this one in an upset.

But even if I didn't, I can't help but bet on a 16-point underdog.

— by Tork Mason

Oklahoma

If I had said at the beginning of the season that Iowa would play Oklahoma in a postseason bowl, you probably would have been a lot more excited than you are right now.

That's because the Sooners were ranked No. 1 in the AP's preseason poll. Iowa, on the other hand, has been unranked all season long.

But whether it's the BCS championship game or the Insight Bowl, Hawkeye fans everywhere must face the cold, hard truth: Iowa's string of three-straight bowl wins will come to an end this year.

The Black and Gold haven't faced an offense like the Sooners'. Quarterback Landry Jones leads an offense that put up 40 points a game this year and did it against some of the better teams in the country.

The Sooners trounced then-No. 11 Texas, 55-17. They put up 58 points on Bill Snyder's Kansas State Wildcats, the same Wildcats that will play Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

Let's not forget that the Sooners do all of this through the air. Oklahoma has the fourth-best passing offense in the country, averaging 365 yards per game. What makes that stat more impressive is Jones has continued to put up those numbers without injured future NFL wideout Ryan Broyles. Jones has tossed for just around 1,000 yards in the three games without Broyles, who will also miss the Insight Bowl.

Think about how badly they'll punish the Hawkeyes, who finished last in the Big Ten in pass defense.

The Insight Bowl probably wasn't the bowl game Oklahoma wanted to go to, but that won't stop it from lighting up the scoreboard against an inferior opponent.

But hopefully, you're still excited about another Iowa bowl game. This bowl season will be unlike one we've seen in a while from the Hawkeyes.

Boomer Sooner, baby.

— by Cody Goodwin


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