On Tuesday, Dec. 28, the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4) will play the Missouri Tigers (10-2, 6-2) in the Tempe, Ariz Insight Bowl. The game is at 9:00 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN.
After losing senior wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and sophomore running back Adam Robinson, Iowa will need to pull together for its final game with some changes in the line-up.
Last Friday, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz announced that red shirt freshman fullback Brad Rogers will miss the bowl game due to cardiology testing. He was listed as Iowa’s second fullback and was slated to play running back behind freshman Marcus Coker.
Senior running back Paki O’Meara is now listed as No. 2. at running back. Coker will need to step up like he did for the Indiana (22 for 129 yards) and Ohio State games (nine for 70 yards and one touchdown).
For the season, Coker has 81 carries, 403 yards, and two touchdowns.
Without DJK, Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi will rely more on wide receiver Marvin McNutt; he led the team with 51 receptions for 798 yards and the No. 2 sophomore wide receiver, Keenan Davis (10 receptions for 126 yards, one touchdown).
Senior wide receiver Colin Sandeman and talented tight end Allen Reisner could also see more playing time.
For Missouri, tight end Michael Egnew is a favorite target of his junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The John Mackey Award finalist caught 83 passes for 698 yards this season. The team’s leading rusher is junior running back De’Vion Moore (93 attempts for 485 yards and eight touchdowns).
Advantage: Iowa for depth and experience (I know, it’s shocking to say that)
Both teams bring very tough defenses to the table. Iowa has its trio of Adrian Clayborn, Tyler Sash and Shaun Prater. Consensus All-American Clayborn was the MVP for the Orange Bowl; Sash was third on the team with 73 tackles and Prater tied for the team lead with four interceptions.
Iowa’s senior linebacker Jeff Tarpinian is expected to play after combating injuries throughout the season.
Missouri’s defense leads the nation in red zone scoring percentage (54.8 percent) and has allowed 15.2 points per game, the sixth-fewest in the FBS. Iowa is right behind the Tigers with 16.4 but in its last three games, the team gave up at least 20 points.
The Tigers rate highly in sacks (No. 6), pass efficiency defense (No. 10) and turnover margin (No. 14).
Advantage: Missouri for consistency
For the season, Gabbert is 260 for 418, 2752 yards and 15 touchdowns. He can run the ball (he’s rushed for more than 400 yards this season) and has four receivers who get the majority of his quick, short passes. Gabbert has a young O-line and has been sacked 36 times this season.
Stanzi is 210 for 324, 2804 yards and 25 touchdowns. He has an Iowa-record 21 consecutive games with a touchdown pass and if he has a good game on Tuesday, he could set Iowa’s record for efficiency rating. He is a leader and can be clutch, but again, we have seen Bad Stanzi.
Advantage: Stanzi for experience
Iowa’s freshman kicker Mike Meyer was a little slow getting out of the starting gate but had some great games. He made 80 percent of his field goals in his first season and will be playing in his first bowl game. Missouri’s junior field goal kicker Grant Ressel was impressive in 2009 with his 96.3 percent field goal kicks but he was off this year at 88.9 percent.
Advantage: Missouri for experience
This is Missouri’s sixth consecutive bowl game. If they win, it will give them a record 11 victories for the third time in school history.
The Hawkeyes are looking for a school-record three victories in the postseason. After a disappointing season and recent team problems, a win will restore team pride and put the program back into positive conversations.
Hawkeyes win 30-27.
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Written by Debbie Baratz